Phantasy for Piano Quartet in f# minor
"I know of few things in British Chamber Music more satisfying than Bridge's Phantasy for Piano Quartet...the work at times is filled with a serene dignity, which is none to common nowadays. The tonal coloring is first rate and very original as are the individuality and imaginativeness of the ideas."---Dr. Ernest Walker, British composer and chamber music scholar.
The Phantasy for Piano Quartet by Frank Bridge (1879-1941) was, like his other works bearing this title, composed for the annual and prestigious Cobbett Competition. These competitions where designed to encourage the younger generation of British composers to write chamber music. Its founder and benefactor was the chamber music aficionado William Wilson Cobbett. The rules of the competition provided an alternate format, the old English Fancy for Fantasia from the time of Purcell, to the traditional four movement work which had developed from Haydn onwards. While there was to be only a single movement, there are several sections, each embracing a different of mood, tone color and tempi while at the same time retaining an inner unity. It was composed in 1910.
Born in Sussex, Frank Bridge learned to play violin from his father, and had much early exposure to practical musicianship, playing in theatre orchestras his father conducted. He studied violin and composition, the latter from Charles Stanford, at the Royal College of Music. He later played viola in prominent quartets and was a respected conductor. When Frank Bridge’s chamber music first appeared, it was a revelation to amateurs as well as professional players. Interestingly, the revival in interest in Bridge’s music which took place during the last part of the 20th Century has concerned itself exclusively with his more ‘radical’ works, dating from 1924 onwards. Ironically, these works did nothing to create or further enhance the firm reputation he had established with both professionals and amateurs. Rather, it was works just like the Phantasy for Piano Quartet and several other of his Phantasy works which contributed to his success.
The opening Allegro moderato, after a boisterous, brief introduction, begins with a march-like subject. The second melody, has an almost Latin American quality to it with the lovely lyrical tune over the cello's quasi arpeggio figure. The main theme of the Andante moderato, is reminiscent of the song Londonderry Air which he also arranged for string quartet. Again, the highly romantic second subject has a Latin American mood to it. The final section, Allegro ma non troppo, begins in sprightly fashion with a very updated tonality for the time. It leads to a very attractive and more lyrical second subject which alternates with first.
This is a fine work which would do well in the concert hall but will present no technical difficulties to amateurs. Long out of print, we are pleased to make it available once again.