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String Trio

1987; Prelude, Adagio and Fugue

The String Trio (1987) is dedicated to Jillian White of BBC Bristol and was written for one of her lunchtime concerts. It is subtitled 'Prelude, Adagio and Fugue' and like Quartet No 6 is governed by two intervals, thirds and fourths, which play a prominent role throughout. In the last decade, Simpson's language has been more concerned with achieving large-scale harmonie effects without closely adhering to keys, to make intervals, and often combinations of intervals, resonate over large structures because of the energy that generates vital ideas from them. The Trio demonstrates this clearly.

The Presto is light and kittenish, perhaps having something of the wit of a Mendelssohn scherzo, thirds and fourths being repeated in a very rapid succession in the opening violin solo. It is abruptly shortened by the Adagio, a more extended movement consisting of broadly flowing, solemn counterpoint. The intensity that the composer achieves in this section is highly impressive, all the more so considering only three instruments are being used. The Fugue, marked 'Volante' (flying), is the most substantial section of the Trio, beginning delicately on muted strings. After a sudden crescendo the Prelude's main theme returns angrily on violin, 'presumably out of resentment at having been truncated so early', as the composer has suggested, and a fearsome conflict ensues as themes from both movements fight it out. The work concludes in a torrent of explosive energy as thirds and fourths are forcefully reiterated on violin and viola above a gruff motive on cello and a final succession of 'flying' scales.

from notes by Matthew Taylor © 1990


Simpson: String Quartets Nos 3 & 6 and String Trio
CDA66376Archive Service


Movement 1: Prelude: Presto
Track 3 on CDA66376 [1'38] Archive Service
Movement 2: Adagio
Track 4 on CDA66376 [5'20] Archive Service
Movement 3: Fugue: Volante
Track 5 on CDA66376 [6'30] Archive Service

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