Phantasie for String Quartet
James Friskin (1886-1967) was born in Glasgow, and at a young age showed considerable music ability which gained him a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied piano with Edward Dannreuther and composition with Charles Stanford. In 1914 Friskin went to work in the States as a teacher, and was subsequently appointed to the staff of the Juilliard School in New York where he remained for many years.
Friskinís Phantasie for String Quartet dates from 1906 and was composed for the prestigious Cobbett Competition. The Cobbett Competitions were 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. There was to be only a single movement of around 15 minutes duration embracing a variety of moods, tone colors and tempi while at the same time retaining an inner unity. (There was a rumor that because Cobbett was said to play string quartets during his lunch hour and required works of short duration, he came up with this idea)
The work is has three main sections and a conclusion. The opening Presto is dominated by high spirits and humor. It shows the development of lighter, contemporary British music. Next comes a lyrical Poco adagio section with a contrasting, scherzo-like middle part. The third section, is flowing and expressive as is the finale which recalls earlier melodies.
This fine work has been out of print for the better part of a century and we are pleased to reintroduce and feel it would make an attractive shorter work on any string quartet's program while at the same time being an attractive piece for amateurs.