I wish I could remember the quote, or even the source, but I have a clear memory of reading in a biography of Enoch Powell that he found church music dangerously affecting, so had to stop listening to it. He had been a supporter of St Peter’s, Wolverhampton, and its great musical tradition.
He’s right. For me, music in general, and organ music in particular, is dangerous indeed.
Thursday is my usual day off. I spent the morning exploring organ music I’d had for decades but never looked at. I know and play the first, third and fifth of Six Organ Pieces by Frank Bridge, written variously between 1901 and 1912, but for whatever reason I’ve never looked at the second, fourth and sixth. Until today.
I am almost overwhelmed by the fourth, Andante con moto. Why? Never having heard or played it before, it’s not because it reminds me of events or times or places or people.
It’s not difficult. It’s in D flat major, 5 flats, a key that I find very comfortable—the disposition of the black notes suits the anatomy of my hands beautifully. It’s a key with lovely warm feel to it, and lovely and warm sum up the piece too, for it’s not sad or sighing or astringent or unsettling. Wagner is there, unquestionably—I hear him in other Bridge pieces too—in the chord progressions and the discord resolutions, or lack of them.
So wherein lies the danger?
It melts my shell. It leaves me unprotected. It removes me from time and place – ec stasis, ecstasy. I want more and more. It’s a drug, an addiction. I would do almost anything for a fix of more of the same, to stay in that place of delight. It creates dependency. It paralyzes. It intoxicates. It enchants.
I am not good at moderation.
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Tom – have you seen this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdmoxlqQQ4c
His pupil is wildly over-rated. I wouldn’t give him house room myself. Funnily enough I thought of asking you if you were a Bridge admirer – now I don’t need to. His later organ works, including the Processional, are equally rewarding, more astringent than these early works, but for me in no way as affecting. Thank you for your affirmation.
Good to see Bridge get some appreciation, especially from someone whose judgement I respect.
Bridge very under-rated – had the misfortune to be overshadowed by his pupil I suppose.