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Thread: British composers and chamber music

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    Default British composers and chamber music

    Please could some time generous people help me out. My great interest is chamber music eg string quartets, piano trios, piano quintets, violin sonatas. Recently I have realised my interest has not really included British composers. I have listened to Elgar’s piano quintet, string quartet and violin sonata, Bridge’s piano quintet, Moeran’s string quartet. I have been put off in the past by comments that it all sounds the same, intermission music, etc. No doubt you may have come across such comments as well. I am in a caring role where I have long evenings alone and I have decided to explore beyond my usual catchment of leading European composers. However where to start? Names such as Bax, Arnold, Bridge, Finzi, Vaughn Williams, etc, are mostly just that to me. Please could someone kindly suggest some listening recommendations to me. We all have to start somewhere when branching out of the familiar. Wandering down unknown roads would give me a bit of a lift, let my mind have a positive thread to follow. Just a plea to people on here from a member who quite literally does not get out much at present. All replies welcome.

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    To be honest, maybe chamber music is not the strongest suit, so to speak, of English composers. You mentioned Elgar and his piano quintet, plus Frank Bridge and some others. Vaughan-Williams wrote 2 string quartets, and they're somewhat appealing. Maybe you'd be better-off with some of the more-substantial works of Walton, V-W, Elgar and others - for instance, Walton's Violin and/or Viola Concertos, short pieces by V-W, and some of Elgar's Overtures - "Cockaigne", for one, will give one that sense of the great VALUE of what some of these men accomplished, some years ago. …. Best of luck!

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    Senior Member Olias's Avatar
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    There is a wind quintet by English composer Gustav Holst that is a staple of the wind quintet repertoire and is definitely worth exploring.

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    Elgar - Violin Sonata Op 82

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    Check out the chamber music of Alan Rawsthorne; there's plenty of it on Naxos recordings and it's very good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Partita View Post
    Elgar - Violin Sonata Op 82
    Yes, that's a great work which also reminds me of the equally rewarding violin sonata from Walton.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Check out the 15 string quartets by Robert Simpson, the UK's Shostakovich. Michael Tippet wrote 5 quartets, Britten 3.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Bax - start with the harp quintet, then the string quartets.
    Moeran - Fantasy Quartet for oboe and strings, then cello sonata
    Clarke, Rebecca - Viola sonata
    I treat my music like I treat my pets. It’s something to own, care about and curate with attention to detail. From a blog by hjr.

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    whispering – First of all I’d like to wish you strength. To be in a caring role will put a lot of stress on you. I also wish you many friends to support you and the ability to get the necessary rest. May music give joy to you!

    As for the music: Here are some suggestions:

    Ralph Vaughan Williams: Phantasy Quintet (Maggini Quartet)


    Benjamin Britten: String Quartet no. 3 (Maggini Quartet)


    Charles Villiers Stanford: String Quartet no. 4 (Dante Quartet)


    John Joubert: String Quartet no. 3 – first movement (Brodsky Quartet)


    John Ireland: Phantasy Sonata (Robert Plane, clarinet; Sophia Rahman, piano)

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    Some more suggestions (old and new ...)

    John Bull: Pavan in the second tone (Alan Feinberg, piano)


    Tobias Hume: Captain Humes Pavin (Jordi Savall, viola da gamba)


    Henry Purcell: Suite in A minor (Kenneth Gilbert, harpsichord)


    Nigel Clarke: The Scarlet Flower (Sébastian Rousseau, flugelhorn; Longbow)


    Jonathan Harvey: Curve with Plateau for Solo Cello (Arne Deforce, cello)

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    Senior Member pjang23's Avatar
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    Frank Bridge's Piano Quintet is brilliant, but so are his piano trios and piano quartet:






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    Quote Originally Posted by pjang23 View Post
    Frank Bridge's Piano Quintet is brilliant, but so are his piano trios and piano quartet:





    These three works are indeed outstanding, especially the second piano trio (although it's actually his third - he discarded his first one from 1899 at some point).

  18. #13
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    British classical music from around 1880-1980 is one of my main interests, and has been for some time. I only listed a single work by Elgar (Violin Sonata Op 82) earlier today as it wasn't convenient to delve any further into my collection at the time.

    A few more composers and works are listed below. I have only included composers not mentioned previously, and have confined attention to those composers born after about 1850, leaving out the barogue and classical eras completely. Apologies if any composer names are repeated as given by others. In several cases, the composers listed below produced quite a lot of chamber works, and I have only given a small number of examples.

    Adding up everything provided so far in this thread, there is obviously a very large amount of British chamber music that's worth exploring. I have most of the stuff so far mentioned, but not all. I will find useful some of the suggestions to fill out the gaps. For instance, I don't have works by Alan Rawsthorne. He has been on my "to do" list for some time now.

    In addition to chamber music (2+ instruments), the OP might wish to note, if he is not already aware, that there's a lot of very good songs/song cycles by the likes of George Butterworth, Ivor Gurney, Peter Warlock, involving piano accompaniment in many cases. Also there's some interesting solo piano work by the likes of somewhat obscure British composers like Armstrong Gibbs, which is worth trying out. The OP didn't mention any of these so I haven't included any.

    William Alwyn ( 1905 - 1985 ) - Suite for oboe & harp; Violin Sonatina
    Malcolm Arnold ( 1921 - 2006 ) - Several incl Trio for flute, viola, bassoon; Oboe quartet
    Arthur Bliss ( 1891 - 1975 ) - Several incl Piano Quartet; Viola Sonata
    Frederick Delius ( 1862 - 1934 ) - Several incl Piano Quartet; Viola Sonata
    Edward Elgar ( 1857 - 1934 ) - String Quartet; Piano Quintet
    Gerald Finzi ( 1901 - 1956 ) - Five Bagatelles
    Herbert Howells ( 1892 - 1983 ) - Sonata for clarinet & piano
    John Ireland ( 1879 - 1962 ) - Several incl Violin Sonata No 2; Piano Trio No 3
    Gordon Jacob ( 1879 - 1962 ) - Quartet for oboe & strings
    Hubert Parry ( 1848 - 1918 ) - Trio in E minor for violin, cello & pianoforte
    Edmund Rubbra ( 1901 - 1986 ) - Several incl String Quartets Nos 1-4; Piano trio in one movement
    Edwin York Bowen ( 1884 - 1961 ) - Rhapsody Trio in A major
    Last edited by Partita; Jul-25-2019 at 19:13.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Brian Ferneyhough has written some brilliant chamber music


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    Senior Member Littlephrase1913's Avatar
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    The third has been mentioned already, but I’ll put a spotlight on all the string quartets of Britten.


    Last edited by Littlephrase1913; Jul-26-2019 at 05:49.

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