Phantasie in e minor for Piano Trio
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 in e minor for Piano Trio dates from 1909 and won Second Prize in 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.
The work is dominated by two distinct tempi, adagio and allegro molto. Itbegins with anadagio theme on cello alone, later taken up by the violin. In the allegro molto section, the violin plays a theme with the character of a jig, to which the other instruments supply an accompaniment of rhythmic phrases, which add further vitality to the texture and provide extra thematic material later on. The middle section is also adagio and opens with a beautiful melodic theme. The final section of the trio is heralded by the reappearance of the allegro molto tempo but it is the return of the adagio which brings the a peaceful conclusion.
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 piano trio's program while at the same time being an attractive piece for amateurs.