Piano Quartet in b minor, Op.16
Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946) grew up in London and was part of the Dunhill family which founded the famous tobacco shop in that city. He studied composition at the Royal College of Music with Charles Villiers Stanford. After graduating, he enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a teacher and composer, eventually serving as a professor at the Royal College. He was especially fond of chamber music and wrote a considerable amount.
The Piano Quartet was composed in 1901 and won the prestigious Leslie Alexander Prize. The opening Allegro begins pensive and emotional vein. A series of charming themes, one after the other, are presented and developed in a very natural fashion. The second movement, Adagio non troppo, has evident vocal qualities in its use of its melodies and the way that they are presented by the strings. The depth of emotion is to the fore with one of the greatest viola solos in the literature. A very effective pulsating scherzo with a Brahmsian trio follows. The finale begins with a lengthy, somber Molto lento e serioso introduction. However, in the main part of the movement, Allegro, a calm sense of affirmation prevails.
This is a first rate late Romantic piano quartet which surely would have taken its place in the repertoire except for the prejudice against Anglo-American composers at that time. Long out of print and unavailable, we feel it deserves a place in the concert hall where it will certainly triumph but also on the stands of amateurs who will surely enjoy it as well.