Frank Bridge (1879-1941) studied violin and composition at RCM, where he won a scholarship to study with Stanford for four years. He established a career as a violist, chamber player and conductor, frequently conducting at the Henry Wood Promenade concerts. In 1923 he toured America conducting concerts of his own works. He also taught, but his only composition student was Benjamin Britten,
The Three Idylls were written in 1906, the same year in which he wrote the Phantasie Quartet in F minor, often considered a seminal piece in Bridge’s output. The Idylls reveal the poetic nature of his early style, with fine, clear contrapuntal lines.
In the first, Adagio molto espressivo, the viola opens with a short ascending phrase, later accompanied by dark, sustained chords. The first violin takes over and moves the music to its first points of climax and repose. String tremolos in the central section make the music more assertive and active before the expanded opening materials return to a dark ending.
The Allegretto poco lento has a gentle, dreamy effect at the opening. Stronger, shorter notes make an interesting contrast but the opening dreamy music soon returns and gradually relaxes, helped with two separate silent bars near the end.
A strong cello figure give the Allegro con moto an assertive opening. An ostinato-like bass figure accompanies lighter, dancing music as shorter figures grow in intensity. The music increases in speed and develops. A full-sounding allargando allows the opening cello figure to build to the final ascent to the dramatic cadence chords.