String Quartet No.1, Fantasy in d minor, Op.17(b)
"Holbrooke's First String Quartet, Fantasy in d minor, was published in 1906. It does not follow classical structure but is more in the realm of programmatic music. The work is in three sections which are connected. They are named Departure (Allegro vigoroso), Absence (Adagio non troppo)and Return. The craftsmanship is very fine and this is a tonally pleasing work. Particularly appealing is the lusty finale which is peppered with spirited humor. This quartet is a lot of fun to play and should certainly appeal to amateurs"---Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
Joseph Holbrooke (1878-1958) born near London in the town of Croydon. Both his parents were musicians and his early lessons were with his father. He was sent to the Royal Academy of Music in London and after graduating worked as a pianist and conductor, all the while composing. Eventually his big works for orchestra and chorus and his operas brought him considerable fame, however, after the First World War, he and his works fell into obscurity. He composed a considerable amount of chamber music, most of which is of a high quality and awaits rediscovery.
The Fantasy (String Quartet No.1) came into being as a result of the Cobbett Phantasy Competition whose aim was to resuscitate British chamber music by encouraging British composers to write it. The form of the Phantasy was selected as it was thought to be created by 16th century British composers such as Purcell. The rules required the work to either be in one movement, although there could be sections, or in movements which had to be connected. Hence, while Holbrooke's quartet is in three movements, they are all closely related thematically and are played without interruption.
This quartet was widely regarded as one of the best of its type and received frequent performances, until it, like his other works, went out of vogue in the 1920's. Our of print for the better part of a century, we are pleased to make it available once again.
Parts & Score: $31.95