Peter FRIBBINS (b.1969)
String Quartet No.2 After Cromer (2005-06) [19:03]
A Haydn Prelude (2009) [2:46]
Piano Concerto (2010) [30:45]
Fantasias for viola and piano Nos. 1 and 2 (2007-11) [11:11]
Chilingirian Quartet
Anthony Hewitt (piano: Fantasias, Prelude)
Diana Brekalo (piano: concerto)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Robertas šervenikas (concerto)
Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola)
rec. November 2010, St Silas Church, Chalk Farm, London (Quartet); April 2011, Cadogan Hall, London (Concerto); August 2011, The Orangery, Trent Park, Middlesex University (Prelude, Fantasias)
GUILD GMCD 7381 [64:32]

The music of Peter Fribbins can be heard over a wide range of forms in this disc, from a solo piano prelude to a full-scale piano concerto. To add a string quartet and fantasias for viola and piano ensures that he is represented by a portfolio of compositions that showcases his highly communicative but never wholly straightforward music.
The String Quartet builds on the old hymn Cromer, an organ prelude on which Fribbins had written some time before this 2006 quartet. It’s a rather fascinating work, profuse with incident, cannily establishing the hymn tune over supporting pizzicati. There is warm writing in the slow movement, each voice richly characterised, followed immediately by a taut, lively scherzo. Energetically launched, as the finale develops we hear the emergence of another venerable hymn, For those in Peril On the Sea.
A Haydn Prelude was written jointly for John McCabe’s 70th birthday and for the commemoration of Haydn’s bicentenary - the felicitous joining of pianist and composer won’t be lost on those who collected McCabe’s monumental and pioneering complete Haydn sonata recordings. It’s a thoughtful, reflective piece but hints suggestively too, albeit briefly.

The Piano Concerto was written in 2010. This performance at the Cadogan Hall in London was its world premiere. This work, in contrast to the brief Prelude, is cast on a wide canvass lasting half an hour. Once again construction and development are keys to the success of the work. It opens rather sullenly but soon erupts with purpose and power, full of contrast and colour. The solo piano’s ruminative paragraphs, some archaic-inclining, conjure up evocative sound pictures in the mind, and are finely played by Diana Brekalo. The oboe melody in the slow movement doesn’t sound remotely like the oboe solo in the slow movement of Brahms’ Violin Concerto but it serves a similar expressive point and adds to the cumulative sense of resolution and repose found by the piano. Lyrical and warm, the finale is pushed on by powerful brass writing, revisits earlier material, and reaches a rather abrupt, decisive end.
The Fantasias take two folk tunes, one Welsh and one Hungarian, and make great play with them. I detect the influence of Britten’s Lachrymae in the first and I can hear cimbalon imitation in the second.
Fribbins has much to say musically speaking, and he has been very well served by the thoughtful and imaginative soloists here, and by the recordings in various venues. 

Jonathan Woolf
Fribbins has much to say musically speaking … very well served by the thoughtful and imaginative musicians.