String Quartet No.2 "Impressions", Op.59a
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.
Holbrooke’s Second String Quartet is in two movements and dates from 1915 and the early months of the First World War. However, there is no overtly, military or war-like music in it. Initally it was subtitled “War Impressions” but given its lack of military character, Holbrooke’s publisher ultimately simply called it “Impressions”. Over the years, there has been some confusion as to its opus number have been called Op.58 and also 59a. Holbrooke gives the first movement the subtitle “Serenade Belgium 1915.” The tempo is marked Andante carrezzevola. This is in no way a traditional serenade but more like an elegy as one might expect given the terrible killing battles of Arras and Ypres which had already taken place in Belgium. The music is somber and somewhat searching, but it is not a dirge. The second movement, Vivace non troppo, is subtitled “Russian Dance (On a Russian folk song)”.It is a lively, upbeat folk dance which is given in four different versions, said to be affection tributes or parodies of Wagner, Grieg, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.
Our of print for the better part of a century, we are pleased to make this emotive work from an important and unjustly ignored composer available once again.
Parts & Score: $29.95