Brown, James Francis
The challenge of combining the piano with strings in chamber music is often solved by some form of dramatic dialogue, setting the forces as antagonists in order to make a virtue of the opposing sonorities. I wanted however, to achieve a convincing balance within a kind of contrapuntal and harmonic propulsion where the piano and strings are often moving rapidly as a single force.
It is cast in one movement, which is sub-divided into a sonata structure and an extended coda. The first subject group expands from an initially quasi Mozartian framework into music of a tougher and more assertive nature. There is a slower, darker second subject and a climactic development. The recapitulation is substantially reorganised and re-interpreted.
The coda takes the form of an allegro Finale and is a variation of the sonata material both in terms of metre and character, intending to bring the work to an exuberant conclusion.
The Piano Quartet is dedicated to the Fidelio Piano Quartet for whom it was written. The commission was funded by the Philharmonia Orchestra's Martin Musical Scholarship Fund Ensemble Award, sponsored by Total with investment from Arts & Business New Partners scheme. It was first performed at the Presteigne Festival in August 2004.
The piano quartet is recorded by Tamás András, violin, Sarah-Jane Bradley viola, Gemma Rosefield cello and Katya Apekisheva piano - on Guild GMCD 7354.