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Friern Ensemble & Viv McLean
Ian Byrne Brito
Notes on the performers
The Friern Ensemble is made up of leading London musicians:
Paul Willey (violin) studied at the Royal Academy of Music and won scholarships to complete his studies in Freiburg, Indiana and Sienna. He was Associate Leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before being appointed Leader of the Ulster Orchestra and subsequently Leader of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He now freelances, and appears regularly as guest leader of the English Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras. He has performed as concerto soloist with various leading orchestras, and has played on BBC radio both as recitalist and as concerto soloist.
Ian Byrne Brito
Ian Bryne Brito (viola) was born in the UK but brought up in Spain. He graduated from The Hague Royal Conservatory and completed a masters at the Royal Academy of Music. Since then, Ian has developed a successful
international performing career and has won several prestigious awards and scholarships. He continues to perform and teach alongside his role as Manager and Viola Specialist with Stringers in London.
Nigel Blomiley is one of the most distinguished principal cellists in the country. Pierre Fournier, with whom he studied, described his playing as ‘very musical’ and ‘creating a marvellous atmosphere’. Bernard Greenhouse
described him as ‘a damn fine cellist’. Largely self-taught, Nigel did not begin any musical training until he was fourteen, six years later he was playing professionally and established himself as a principal player in the BBC
Northern Symphony Orchestra. Subsequently, he was Principal Cellist of the BBC Concert Orchestra for 25 years.
Adam Precious has had a long association with London’s major symphony and chamber orchestras, touring the world extensively. His freelance commitments as a double bass player include film and television work,
contemporary music groups and chamber music. He believes strongly in music education, teaching in two major independent schools, and is a popular chamber music tutor and coach.
Described by Le Monde as “possessing the genius one finds in those who know how to forget themselves”, since winning First Prize at the Maria Canals Piano Competition in Barcelona, British pianist Viv McLean has performed in all the major venues in the UK as well as throughout Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA. Viv’s concerto work includes appearances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva, Orchestra of the Swan, Orchestra of St John’s, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Concert Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of such conductors as Daniel Harding, Wayne Marshall, John Lubbock, Christopher Warren-Green, Owain Arwell Hughes, Philip Hesketh, David Charles Abell, Stephen Bell, Carl Davis, Rebecca Miller and Marvin Hamlisch.
Piano quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 15
- Allegro molto moderato
- Scherzo: Allegro vivo
- Allegro molto
Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1, in C minor, Op. 15, is one of the two chamber works he wrote for the conventional piano quartet combination of piano, violin, viola and cello. Despite being in a minor key it is predominantly positive in tone, though with some hints in the slow movement of the emotional turmoil of Fauré’s life at the time of the composition. The first piano quartet is considered one of the three masterpieces of his youth, along with the first violin sonata and the Ballade in F♯ major. It was favourably received at its premiere in 1880, and was among the chamber works for which he had been awarded the Prix Chartier by the Académie des BeauxArts in 1885. He later wrote a second work in the form.
In 1877, after wooing her for five years, Fauré had finally become engaged to Marianne Viardot, daughter of the well-known singer Pauline Viardot. The engagement lasted for less than four months, and Marianne broke it off, to Fauré’s considerable distress. It was in the later stages of their relationship that he began work on the quartet, in the summer of 1876. He completed it in 1879, and revised it in 1883, completely rewriting the finale. The first performance of the original version was given on 14 February 1880. In a study dated 2008, Kathryn Koscho notes that the original finale has not survived, and is believed to have been destroyed by Fauré in his last days.
Piano quintet in A major, D. 667 ‘The Trout Quintet’
- Allegro vivace (A major)
- Andante (F major)
- Scherzo: Presto (A major)
- Andantino – Allegretto (D major)
- Allegro giusto (A major)
The Trout Quintet (Forellenquintett) is the popular name for the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667, by Franz Schubert. The piano quintet was composed in 1819, when he was 22 years old; it was not published, however, until 1829, a year after his death. Rather than the usual piano quintet line-up of piano and string quartet, the Trout Quintet is written for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass.
The piece is known as the Trout because the fourth movement is a set of variations on Schubert’s earlier Lied “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”). The quintet was written for Sylvester Paumgartner, a wealthy music patron and amateur cellist from Steyr, Upper Austria, who also suggested that Schubert include a set of variations on the Lied. The importance of the piece stems mainly from its use of an original and innovative harmonic language, rich in mediants and chromaticism, and from its timbral characteristics. The Trout Quintet has a unique sonority among chamber works for piano and strings, due mainly to the piano part, which for substantial sections of the piece concentrates on the highest register of the instrument, with both hands playing the same melodic line an octave apart (having been freed to do so by the inclusion of both cello and bass in the ensemble).