And I add: how wonderful to now have excellent performances of his String Quartets (on Naxos). Way back in 1966-69 when I was a student in the early days of York and (cor blimey!) we had no less than the Amadeus String Quartet with a Granada residency in the university for two whole years. In one of their fortnightly concerts they played Fricker's 2nd Quartet. I had never heard this work before and didn't know much about the composer. I was quite swept off my feet. Quite strange really since you need to hear a work like that several times to acquire a grasp of its 'geography' before you begin to be moved by it and it enters your life as a treasured item.
I then spent the next 50 years very much wanting to hear this work again, and rather like the ancient mariner have been accosting string quartets and pleading with them to have a look at the scores of these works.
The Villiers Quartet became known to me as a group with a positive commitment to digging out neglected British quartets. So I wrote to them making such a plea. Imagine my delight when, quite out of the blue, they contacted me a year or so later to tell me they had signed a contract with Naxos, had recorded all three quartets, and that the disc would be released in March this year. They invited me to the launch of the CD in London, and I attended that event and heard them play a movement from the 2nd quartet. Pure bliss! And James Dickenson, the 1st violin, had done his homework for he greeted me with a grin and said: You told us you've spent half a century wanting to hear this work again. But if you work out dates carefully you'll see that this performance tonight is actually just a month or so short of a full half century since you heard the Amadeus performance of it.
A wonderful evening. And I can also let slip the news that the Villiers have also signed contracts with Naxos to record other British quartets that, quite scandalously, have been allowed to fall into more or less complete neglect. So real treats in store.
Apologies to all. It occurs to me that this post is quite irrelevant to Colin's message and is of no interest at all save to those who are misguided enough to want to learn snippets of my autobiography. But I hastily wrote the reply since a few months later I continue to reel in joy that at last I can listen to first class performances of all Peter Racine Fricker's quartets. I'm sure I shall greet recordings of all the symphonies with similar delight.
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