I have always felt Benjamin Britten is one of the greatest composers for strings, and Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge is one of his masterpieces.
More about the music
This string orchestral work was inspired by his teacher Frank Bridge. The idea was that each of the variations would reflect a different side of Bridge’s personality but the writing transcends this formula and reveals Britten’s most vulnerable feelings. Even the apparently lighter variations – one of which is beautifully played below – have such sensitivity they touch the heart:
Other music for strings
Britten writes superbly well for strings and knows how to exploit their strongest characteristics. His use of pizzicato, in both Simple Symphony (a lighter string orchestral work) and the Frank Bridge Variations often demands virtuosity:
And even in larger orchestral works – like Peter Grimes – his understanding and use of string effects is exciting and inimitable: