Piano Quintet in c minor
"It is one of the most brilliant Opus Ones in existence."
So wrote W.W. Cobbett in his Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music. Actually, the Piano Quintet in c minor, which dates from 1907, like most of Friskinís chamber music had no opus number, although for a while it was apparently believed to be Friskinís Opus 1. It wasnít. In any event, Friskin was only 21 years old, at the time he composed the Quintet, yet one would never guess this from the maturity of the writing. The opening movement, Allegro risoluto, burst forth full of passion with a unisono passage in the strings, played con fuoco. The viola presents the first theme, full of chromaticism. It is a movement written on an almost symphonic scale, overflowing with ideas and enough thematic material for several movements. Next comes a lively scherzo, Allegro molto. The second subject was taken from a popular Scottish street song. The third movement, Adagio sostenuto begins serenely with the strings presenting the main theme to a delicate piano accompaniment. Though the music is full of lyricism there are dramatic outbursts full of passion which interrupt this mood. The finale, Molto sostenuto e maestoso, Allegro con fuoco, begins with a slow introduction which has a sad somewhat pleading quality and leads to the lively and lyrical allegro. (Our soundbite starts at the allegro)
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.
Out of print for the better part of a century and we are pleased to reintroduce this quintet which surely deserves to be in the repertoire and in concert performance but is no means beyond amateur players.