BRIDGE Piano Quintet H49 SCOTT Piano Quintet No 1

Early-20th-century British quintets on disc at last

Author: 
Edward Greenfield

BRIDGE Piano Quintet H49 SCOTT Piano Quintet No 1

  • Quintet
  • Piano Quintet No. 1

The British Music Society originally issued these pioneer recordings of neglected works on cassette but it is welcome that they now come on CD, if sadly too late for the fine pianist, Raphael Terroni, to endorse them (the force behind the project, he died last August). The results may have originally been recorded as long ago as 1989 but the balance of sound remains excellent.

Frank Bridge’s Piano Quintet was originally written as a four-movement work in 1904 but radically revised in 1912: he rewrote the development sections of the outer movements and brought together the two middle movements, using his experience of the Phantasy form prescribed in the WW Cobbett Competiton. One can tell that Bridge was a string player rather than a pianist by the writing, which consistently favours the string quartet. That rather contradicts the idea that the piano represents his beloved Ethel (later his wife), set against himself represented by the strings. Nevertheless, the results are both moving and powerful, most of all in the long first movement. The incorporation of the scherzo section as the central B section of the middle movement also works well.

Cyril Scott’s First Piano Quintet emerges as very much the work of a pianist-composer and is dedicated to Debussy. Scott’s devotion is plain from his use of the pentatonic scale and the regular use of parallel chords, notably in the piano-writing. The results are warmly expressive and spontaneous-sounding over all four movements. It is good to have these fine works available on disc at last.

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