Concert work in 3 movements composed 1956, revised 2014
Published by: Highbridge Music
Instrumentation: violin, cello and piano

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Duration: 9:30
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  • 1: Allegro

    Originally titled 'Fantasy-Allegro and published as a separate piece by Chappell's Educational Music in 1962.

  • 2: Andante con moto

    Based on sketches composed in 1956

  • 3: Scherzando

    Based on sketches composed in 1956


Composer's note: In March 1956 I decided to write a piano trio during Brighton Grammar School's Easter holidays. I completed a first movement (Allegro) and jotted some ideas down for a slow movement and a scherzo. Seven years later Philip Pfaff of Chappells Educational Music published 'Burlesca' for piano and violin and 'Party Pieces' for piano. I also showed him the unfinished trio and he decided to publish the completed first movement under the title of 'Fantasy-Allegro'. He was interested in the slow movement but felt that it needed a lot more work. He returned it to me with some written observations, along with the scherzo fragment. This turned out to be fortuitous because in 1964 Chappell's' Music of Bond Street burnt down and most of the manuscripts were lost! In 2014 I rather extraordinarily received an inquiry for the 'Fantasy-Allegro'. This caused me to dig out the ancient sketches and, after this immense gap of nearly 60 years I set about extending the first movement (Allegro), rewriting the second movement (Andante con moto) and reconstructing the third (Scherzando), giving the completed work the name 'Fantasy-Trio, Piano Trio no. 1'' and the opus number 662.


21st June 2015 Daniel Bhattacharya, violin, Bruce White, viola, Peter Adams cello, Sasha Grynyuk, piano, Brighton Unitarian Church, New Road, Brighton, BN1 1UF concert Sunday 5.00pm

A concert of music by Howard Blake presented by The Brighton Philharmonic Society including the premiere of Piano Trio no,1 composed in Brighton when the composer was 17,






Solstice, and the first of the Summer Season of chamber concerts which have now become a familiar feature of Brighton Philharmonic’s programme. Howard Blake is a very familiar figure as a result of his many film scores – to say nothing of The Snowman – but his other compositions are equally appealing. Though a recent injury to his wrist meant he was not able to play the piano parts himself he was present to introduce the music with a gentle humour which suited the occasion and the intimacy of the setting.

The short programme reflected a long-standing interest in the complexity of writing for chamber instruments, opening with a recent arrangement of Pennillion for cello and piano. Originally conceived for harp and piano, it has gone through a number of arrangements before arriving at the present one. The opening melody is intensely lyrical. Blake’s melodic gift is similar to that of Elgar or Tippett in that the melodies seem so inevitable that we can’t believe we have not known them all our lives and he is just recalling a tune we all know already. The work moves rapidly through a set of variations which allow the cellist, Peter Adams, to show his technical skill as well as his sensitivity towards the subtleties of the melody.

The following Fantasy Trio was being given its first performance though the original idea for the score goes back to his early school days. It is obviously difficult on a first hearing to judge how much is the work of the 17 year old and how much the mature composer, but the melodic ideas and the confidence of the work must have been part of the original spark and as such are a tribute to his genius from an early age. The part writing is exemplary, maintaining a balance between them which never allows one voice to dominate. The final Scherzando is more complex both in rhythm and harmonic density.

Howard Blake admitted that the String Trio is probably the most challenging form for him as it constantly misses the fourth note of the chord. The Trio dating from 1975 is a fierce work with a dark edge to it, strengthened by the deeper tones of viola and cello. The violin, Daniel Bhattacharya, takes the lead throughout though he is often challenged by the viola line from Bruce White.

The final piece was a recent extended single movement entitled Elegia Stravagante – a title suggested by a waiter as it is a reflective elegy which ends with unexpected enthusiasm. Though Howard Blake admitted there are strong auto-biographical elements within it, the piece moves rapidly as a whole with universal rather than personal impact. The seven sections are difficult to follow but the sense of achievement by the climax is persuasive.

As Howard Blake was not able to play the piano parts Sasha Grynyuk proved to be a more than ample substitute, bringing a fine mix of subtlety and bravura to his playing.

The next concert is on Sunday 5 July with music by Frank Bridge and Haydn.

Lark, 21/6/2015

Brighton Philharmonic Summer Season – Howard Blake

The new season began brilliantly! Peter Adams, the Philharmonic’s popular principal cello, was the virtuoso backbone of four chamber works covering the entire span of Brighton-bred Blake’s distinguished career. From the re-worked teenage Fantasy-trio of 1956 to last year’s ‘Elegia Stravagante’, each work was full of glorious melody and rhythmic complexity. The composer’s amiable introductions and helpful programme notes illuminated these delightful works even more. Blake is still recovering from a broken wrist so the piano part was played, at just a few days’ notice, by the excellent Sacha Grynyuk. Daniel Bhattacharya (violin) and Bruce White (viola) completed the ensemble.

Unitarian Church Brighton  21 June 2015

Andrew Connal, Classical Reviews, 21/6/2015

Related Autobiography Chapters

Brighton Grammar School and the lead role in 'Ruddigore' (1950)

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