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Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International, December 2017

Although it was highly regarded until the mid-sixties, Fricker’s highly personal and often beautiful music has been overlooked until recently when it made a most welcome come-back into the catalogue thanks to Lyrita’s ongoing Itter Broadcast Collection that has seen the release of a disc coupling Fricker’s imposing oratorio The Vision of Judgement and Fifth Symphony and of another one offering Fricker’s preceding symphonies and thanks to Naxos’ and the Villiers Quartet’s recordings of the composer’s three string quartets which are all three important milestones in the composer’s musical development. These substantial works received strongly committed readings that serve the music well. © 2017 MusicWeb International

Chris Bye
The British Music Society, August 2017

This exciting recording brilliantly executed by the Villiers Quartet paves a perfect way for musical Britons to welcome back this long lost, prodigal son. Here is a fascinating collection of Peter Fricker’s three string quartets that, together with a 1943 piece simply entitled ‘Adagio and Scherzo’, exposes the bare bones of an exceptional and unique composing talent.

Bold and searching accounts fashioned by the highly-accomplished Villiers players show a great understanding and sympathy for these searching and expressive works. They show great aplomb to meet a demanding virtuosity.

There is a powerful energy in these performances that British music fans will be proud to reclaim. © 2017 The British Music Society

Jack Sullivan
American Record Guide, July 2017

The Villiers Quartet, which champions British music, plays with just the right combination of force and restraint: a slight understatement, a bit of British reserve, serves this music well, and that’s how they consistently play it. Listen to the opening of the scherzo in Quartet 2, where the delicate playing makes Fricker’s dark moodiness palatable. These musicians refuse to indulge in loud, expressionist effects: everything is done with subtlety and transparency, enhanced by Naxos’s warm recording. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Bob Stevenson
MusicWeb International, May 2017

The performances of the Villiers Quartet are slightly gruff but suitably polished, with no distracting foibles and excellent intonation. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Peter Quantrill
The Strad, May 2017

This is demanding music, and the Villiers Quartet has done well for reviving it with such immersive mastery that the occasionally grey, cardboard quality of the melodic material is coloured and corrugated into quirky, restlessly compelling structures. The London church acoustic lends bloom and a sense of space to Fricker’s never-quite-atonal harmonies without occluding them. © 2017 The Strad Read complete review

Stephen Greenbank
MusicWeb International, April 2017

This first complete recorded cycle has been made available thanks to the British Music Society Charitable Trust as part of the Michael Hurd Bequest. Naxos’ warm recording is first-class, and Christopher Husted’s excellent annotations are comprehensive. For the adventurous and discerning listener, there’s much to enjoy here. These quartets have found their true advocates in the Villiers Quartet, who surmount every challenge with consummate mastery and committed musicianship. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, April 2017

Listening to these marvellously sympathetic, well-prepared performances from the Villiers Quartet, one wonders why they are not better known.

The seven sections of the First Quartet (1948) skilfully fuse the quartet’s traditional structure into a single, bold span. The three-movement Second (1952–53) shows a marked increase in emotional intensity with no let-up in technical finesse. Astonishingly, the Third followed only 23 years later, its impetus being Elliot Carter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Third Quartet (1971), which had shown that the quartet medium was still viable. Fricker’s Third is a masterpiece of poise, balance and rediscovered expressive purpose. The five movements are in the leaner, partly serial manner of his later period and culminate in a virtuoso variation-finale. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, March 2017

Named after a street in central London, having strong musical associations, [Villiers Quartet’s] technically accomplished artists give us spot-on readings of these pragmatic scores. © 2017 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Blair Sanderson, March 2017

The Villiers Quartet plays with commitment and virtuosity, delivering exemplary performances that are likely to be noticed by other quartets looking for challenging works. © 2017 Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, March 2017

A marked brilliance of craft pervades all four works. Somewhere between later Bartok and, eventually, mid-Elliot Carter in manner of intent rather than imitation, the quartets consistently espouse a serious uncompromising modern expression as the subject matter.

I heartily recommend this volume for anyone with a serious interest in the modern period and in English composers of last century. This is very enlightening and provocative music, performed with zeal and care. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

John France
MusicWeb International, March 2017

The Villiers Quartet gives a superb performance of all these works: Fricker could not have wished for a better advocate of his corpus of String Quartets. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Norbert Tischer
Pizzicato, March 2017

World premiere recordings of three appealing modern string quartets by Peter Racine Fricker. Though the music’s emotional gestures are restrained, there is no lack of expression in these atmospheric performances. © 2017 Pizzicato

Stephen Pritchard
The Guardian, February 2017

With impeccable timing, the Villiers Quartet have captured the current mood of edgy, querulous uncertainty with their release of the three magnificently bracing string quartets of Peter Racine Fricker (1920–90). Though separated by several years, each is distinctly in Fricker’s unique voice, never quite atonal; always charged with a vital, questing energy. No 3 from 1976 is the most spectacular, with a tautly syncopated allegro feroce, a Shostakovich-like adagio and a disquieting allegro inquieto. The playing of this highly talented quartet, champions of British music, is superb throughout and augurs well for their forthcoming release of Delius and Elgar. © 2017 The Guardian

Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, February 2017

I was particularly pleased with the sonics on this recording, clear and crisp with just a bit of ambience around the instruments to give them color. Overall, a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a neglected if not quite forgotten composer. © 2017 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2017

Always known by his full name, Peter Racine Fricker, the British-born composer had the admiration of the music establishment, but fell far short of audience popularity. Caught up in the Second World War that interrupted his education, he was already twenty-five before he sought formal compositional teaching, though previously he had been an organ student briefly entering London’s Royal Collage of Music before being conscripted. The quantum leap for him came in 1949 when his First Symphony won the prestigious Koussevitzky Prize and commissions flowed in, a situation helped by the demand for new works for London’s Festival of Britain the following year. So began a career that included two string quartets, completed in 1949 and 1953, with a third that awaited a first performance when his life came to an end in 1990 aged seventy. After the sufferings of a long war, audiences found that Fricker’s use of atonality, and a chill in his harmonic language, did not win friends outside the music profession. Even today you need to acclimatise yourself to his musical language, though I would ask you to travel that distance towards him, for he was to take British music into the Twenty-first century, and it is time we reassessed his output. If this disc is your introduction, start with the Third, a quartet unusual in its five-movement format, its moments of optimism in contrast to the sombre Second. The release opens with the short First, and concludes with an Adagio and Scherzo written during the war years and probably intended as the central movements for a quartet that was never completed. Fricker’s intricate web of sound needs meticulous balance between instruments, and the long quiet passages are always a challenge. In the young Villiers Quartet, the disc has found a worthy champion, and though microphones are placed rather close, the sound is well detailed and pleasing. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

Records International, February 2017

Twenty years elapsed before the Third [Quartet No. 3], by which time Fricker had adopted his personal approach to serial organization; it must be said, though, that the work is far from atonal, the harmonic language remaining recognisably the same chromatic idiom as the earlier works. The piece is arranged in a symmetrical five-movement structure, with an intricate variation movement for a finale. This is the most accomplished of these works, which is not to deny the significant virtues of the others. The Adagio and Scherzo pre-date the composer’s real career, and were probably intended as part of an early quartet. © 2017 Records International Read complete review

David C F Wright, January 2017

This CD is most welcome following Lyrita’s CD of Peter’s Vision of Judgement, our finest British choral work, an undeniable masterpiece.

Buy this CD of the string quartets. For those of you who may not like ‘modern’ music you really must try this. It is a real find. Thank you Villiers. © 2017 Read complete review

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