- Performer: Bartosz Woroch (violin), Adam Newman (viola), Brian O'Kane (cello), Michael McHale (piano)
- Orchestra: Cappa Ensemble
- Conductor: None
- Composer: Frank Bridge, Arnold Bax, Ian Wilson, William Walton
- Audio CD (6 May 2013)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Nimbus Alliance
- ASIN: B00CI7TA36
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 470,094 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Bridge, Bax, Wilson & Walton Piano Quartets
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Chamber music has played a significant part in the output of all four composers featured on this disc. The piano quartets by Bridge, Bax and Walton are sufficiently heterogeneous to illustrate the multiplicity of approaches the genre can accommodate as well as highlighting the stylistic diversity of British chamber music dating from what may be regarded as its Golden Age - the first decades of the twentieth century.
About the Artist
Since its breakthrough success at the 2007 Royal Over-Seas League Competition, Cappa Ensemble has emerged as a group of outstanding promise. After winning Music Network's Young Musicwide Award in 2009, concert tours around Ireland, appearances at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Radio France-Montpellier Festival, Verbier Festival and broadcasts on RTÉ Lyric FM, BBC Radio 3 and Radio France soon followed. The ensemble has enjoyed collaborative projects with artists such as Nicholas Daniel, Pekka Kussisto and Jörg Widmann and its repertoire has evolved with a strong focus on both the piano quartet and string trio idioms. They have toured extensively in Australasia and Japan and they made their Wigmore Hall debut in December 2008. In 2009, Cappa Ensemble studied with the Artemis Quartet at the Queen Elizabeth School of Music, Belgium and held a Fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. They have also performed in masterclass to renowned musicians Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Ralf Gothoni and Alfred Brendel. The ensemble takes its name from the famous 17th century Italian violin-maker Gioffredo Cappa.
Top customer reviews
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As for Frank Bridge, although he's renowned as Benjamin Britten's composition teacher, his musical output is not heard in public nearly often enough. This new CD by the Cappa Ensemble features a work by each of these men, which were quite new to me.
The third piece on the CD is a Noct by Ian Wilson, composed for this particular ensemble and it's easy to understand why any composer would wish his work to be interpreted by four such talented young musicians.
The last piece on the disc is Walton's Piano Quartet in D minor. As we know, Walton is one of the exceptions to the "lamentably neglected" rule, as we do hear his major works in the concert hall, though, again, far too rarely for my taste! Obviously, he's very well-known for his stirring marches and excellent film music, but his chamber music is a rarer bird. This CD gives us an insight into a different side of Walton, as with Bridge and Bax.
The Cappa Ensemble plays with both sensitivity and enthusiasm. Long may their collaboration flourish!
As far as I can tell, this is the Cappa Ensemble's debut commercial recording. Regardless, their playing is superb, as you might expect from a group of young artists who already have a number of prestigious awards behind them. They play with tremendous flair and intensity, but always with meticulous style and technique.
It is fascinating to hear the various currents of influence in the three early 20th centruy works. The French influence in the Bridge is palpable, as is the 'Celtic' intonation of Bax. But the most surprising for me was the Walton, with its main theme in the Dorian mode (find it on the keyboard by playing the white notes from D to the D above), something much more assocuiated with Vaughan Williams or Holst. It is, though, a very early work, so you could argue that Walton was getting the folk-like modality 'out of his system' before forging a style all of his own. It is a seriously impressive work, nonetheless, and makes a satisfyingly substantial concluding item on this terrific CD.
I have always enjoyed the Bax, which may be more familiar to you in the composer's reworking for piano and orchestra, the so-called "Saga Fragment". Bax lost a number of close friends during the Irish Troubles of the 20's and some of the anger and resentment found its way into his work. It's certainly discernable here as well as in the 1st Symphony. The Cappa rightly reflect this as well as encompassing the more reflective moments.
The Bridge comes from an early period of exploration in his career, prompted by the lure of the Cobbett Prize for innovative composition of chamber works. William Walter Cobbett, born not far from me in Blackheath, was an industrialist and amateur musician, who sponsored the competition. Bridge had already won 2nd prize in the inaugural event held in 1905, although this was with a Fantasy String Quartet.
Although hardly regular fare at least Bax and Bridge are reasonably well known to the average music lover. Irish composer Ian Wilson I guess is not...... but don't be put off! "Noct" is an interesting and I found rather mesmerising piece, premiered by the Cappa in October 2011. Wilson will be 50 next year and so this is surely a very welcome advance present.
Finally the Walton; a real young man's work this which definitely ought to be much better known. Splendid though the symphonies (where's Symphony no 2 with William Boughton by the way Nimbus??), Belshazzar etc etc are, do give this quartet a try. You will find it very rewarding, especially with breathtakingly good playing like this.
So....what are you waiting for ?