Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Zong Affair. Dances and Laments. ... that which echoes in eternity. Porphyria’s Lover. ‘Softly in the dusk’. Chorale Prelude and Fugue on Cromer
Philippe Graffin (vn); Helen Crayford (pn); Nancy Ruffer (fl); Henri Demarquette (vc); Michael Frith (org); Rosamunde Pn Tr; Turner Ens
GUILD 7397 (67:37)
Guild continues its championing of Peter Fribbins’s music with this collection of chamber works, all written in the last 20 years, and as before showcasing the vibrant, colorful but essentially tonal
writing of this British-born composer. Although he continues a chartable line from Britten and Tippett, to my ears there are also continental influences such as Janá?ek and traces of the early 20th-century French school that give his high-minded, often literary influenced works an intriguing non-British flavor.
The collection starts abruptly with
The Zong Affair
, the sharp, biting folk elements giving this single-movement septet a darkly sardonic air, in keeping with its grim subject matter, the mass killings on board a British slave ship in 1781. Cruel yet profound, its final lament strikes a note of darkness absent elsewhere in Fribbins’s brightly colored works. The title work,
Dances and Laments
for violin and cello, is a more conventional five-movement suite, jagged and playful, although it only really gets into its stride in the final section, “Dance in Three.” Beautifully played by Philippe Graffin (a high profile name here) and Henri Demarquette, it is a drily scored, edgy work that contrasts with the plusher items that follow, such as the piano and cello miniature .
.. that which echoes in eternity
. An utter charmer, this is very Satie-esque in its minimalism and structure, but growing ever more rhapsodic with the cello sneaking in gradually over the submerged tread of the piano writing. A fascinating, conventionally beautiful piece, it is the finest and most accessible work here, although there’s much to enjoy elsewhere, with the skittish
, whose opening dissonance quickly dissolves to quicksilver wit and energy. Exquisite too is the single movement piano trio
Softly in the dusk
, very French-tinged with its chromaticism and repeated motifs. After its dying droplets of sound, it is a shock to end with the organ, but Fribbin’s
Chorale Prelude and Fugue on Cromer
charts a similarly contained journey, albeit tonally playful. Written especially for the organist Michael Frith, it is a contemplative if somber way to close the proceedings.
The playing throughout is vibrant and committed, in keeping with the music itself. Guild’s presentation is excellent, with good notes and bios in English and German. The sound is immaculate too, allowing these brightly written scores to shine. As in my previous encounter with Fribbins’s lyrical yet elusive writing, there is an attractive French influence to his writing that recalls Ravel’s chamber style. I would never argue that Fribbins has a unique voice, but his confidence, color, and unashamed belief in lyricism are just as apparent as before. Highly enjoyable.
FANFARE: Barnaby Rayfield
Works on This Recording
Dances & Laments by Peter Fribbins
Philippe Graffin (Violin),
Henri Demarquette (Cello)
Porphyria’s Lover by Peter Fribbins
Nancy Ruffer (Flute),
Helen Crayford (Piano)
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