Bridge, Frank: Two Pieces for Viola and Piano
Pensiero; Allegro Appassionata.
Pensiero and Allegro Appassionato reflect the two most important sides of Bridge’s musical personality and are most aptly titled. Pensiero is restrained, almost elegiac in mood, more fragmentary in the accompaniment’s textures and phrase-structures than its companion. The integration of harmonic elements and melodic contours (especially in the opening dissonance, the interval content of which forms the viola’s first melodic gesture and, in a different harmonic context, effects a stirring climax at the end of the lyrical middle section) is testimony to Bridge’s close attention to compositional detail and his flexible approach to harmonic movement and melodic sequence.
Allegro Appassionato in B minor is, in contrast, exuberant and expansive. That Bridge felt his phrases in broad sweeps is clearly evident in the soaring viola cantilena. Again, the tonal ambiguity of the added sixth dissonance gives characteristic flexibility to Bridge’s enharmonic and chromatic sequences, especially in the use of pivotal notes or chords. The opening rhetorical gesture, the simple arpeggiated harmonic support, the melodic shapes and rhythmic impulse of the outer sections are strikingly similar to the introduction and exposition of the Phantasie Piano Trio, completed at about the same time.