• pf/str4t
  • 28 min

Programme Note

Robert Walker: Piano Quintet

Some time ago the pianist David Owen Norris observed on hearing a piece of mine that it possessed no true counterpoint. Like all minor creators I took this criticism from my friend and my peer to heart. So, too, did I note from another friend that I could, after all, write reasonably well for the piano after the pleasing reaction I had from performances of my first set of capriccios from that instrument. All this came after a most happy experience of writing a string quartet. The logic, then, of a contrapuntal piano quintet to follow was inescapable; and the generous offer of the BBC to commission such a work was the final impetus.

There is very little I need say about the work; for it must surely speak for itself. The design is of two long movements. The first is a prelude and fugue. The prelude is in the baroque French-overture style. The fugue came out of a performance I heard of Stefan Grapelli and Nigel Kennedy having a jam-session. The second movement is a set of variations on a fascinating chord relationship which is helped along by a folk-song. The last variation is long enough to be a fourth movement "finale" in its own right and returns to the baroque. (The 'cognoscenti' will note more than a passing reference to Brandenburg No. 3 - indeed I had thought of arranging the last movement and slotting that in complete, but reason prevailed.) A little coda of the folk-song ends the work on a note of optimism - just. The whole thing lasts about 20 minutes.

© Robert Walker