Frith Piano Quartet

 playing live on BBC radio 3 (Nov. 2008)
 

photos Chris Nottingham (7studios.co.uk)

The Frith Piano Quartet was formed in 2001 by a group of like-minded musicians who wanted to explore the wealth of wonderful music written for the piano quartet medium. The group comprises the pianist Benjamin Frith, violinist Robert Heard, violist Louise Williams and cellist Richard Jenkinson. The quartet's first concerts were at the CBSO's Centre Stage Series in Birmingham where they performed the complete piano quartets of Brahms, Faure and Mozart. The Frith Piano quartet has a keen interest in performing unjustly neglected works that are not so often heard in the concert hall. These have included the piano quartets of Weber, Mahler, Richard Strauss and Mendelssohn. British music is an important part of the Quartet's work and their repertoire includes quartets by Arthur Bliss, Frank Bridge, William Walton and Gordon Jacob, as well as those by living composers.

Walton piano quartet, 2nd movement 

live on BBC radio 3 - (Nov. 2008)

In 2007 the Frith Piano Quartet was chosen to be part of the CPN Making Music Scheme. This has led to many concerts and two tours, firstly to Scotland and then later Yorkshire. In November 2008 the Quartet was featured on BBC Radio 3's 'In Tune', playing piano quartets by Weber, Walton and Schumann. Since 2001 the Quartet's activities have expanded significantly and they have 28 engagements in the 08/09 season.

 

 

 Benjamin Frith - Piano

Benjamin Frith was encouraged by his teacher, Fanny Waterman, to pursue a musical career after winning the UK Dudley National Piano Competition at 14. Today he has made 17 solo discs and performed with many of the great orchestras including Israel Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, Halle, CBSO & many of the BBC Orchestras. Benjamin has appeared with some of the great conductors including Zubin Mehta, Antoni.Wit, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Mark Elder, Mattias Bamert and Mosche Atzmon. At 20 he became a Mozart Memorial Prize winner and was invited by Sir Peter Pears to appear at the Aldeburgh Festival. He achieved international recognition by sharing top prize in the 1986 Busoni International Piano Competition, and 1st prize in the 1989 Artur Rubinstein International Piano Masters Competition, making his debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 1992 with Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. A life long interest in chamber music was realised in his becoming a member of the Gould Piano Trio in 1998.

  

   Robert Heard- Violin

Robert Heard was born in Ebbw Vale, South Wales and grew up in Leicestershire where he was able to take full advantage of the thriving and enlightened County School of Music. After Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with David Martin, he became a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and also played regularly with the London Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Orchestra. After a few years working in Brussels he returned to London playing with the RPO, LSO and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in addition to spending a short time as Principal 2nd violin with the Philharmonia Orchestra. In 1990 he joined the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as Deputy Leader whilst also working regularly with the ASMF Chamber Ensemble and then later with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. During his time in Birmingham, where he eventually became Associate Leader, he was always very active with chamber music projects and the piano quartet began to figure more prominently. In 2007 he left the CBSO in order to pursue various agricultural interests which he combines with chamber music and occasional forays back into the orchestral world.

Robert plays on a Matteo Grofiller violin made around 1700.

 Louise Williams - Viola

Louise Williams has devoted much of her life, mind and heart to chamber music, with intervals dedicated to organic gardening and travelling, and later to raising children.

Louise studied the violin in London with Manoug Parikian and at the Juilliard School in New York with Ivan Galamian. She started her career as a founding member of the Endellion quartet in 1979. With the Endellion she toured both hemispheres during five years. In 1986, returning from long travels in India, she joined the Chilingirian quartet, reinventing herself as a violist. Together they toured Europe, America and Asia for the next five years and recorded the complete Bartok and Dvorak quartets for Chandos.

Three children later, in 1995, she returned to her passion for the quartet/quintet form playing as guest violist in the Takacs, Lindsay, Coull and Sorrel Quartets and beginning a long and extremely fruitful quintet relationship with the Lindsays with whom she played extensively until their final concerts. With them she recorded Mozart & Beethoven quintets.

Louise's love of chamber music goes beyond the quartet and quintet forms. She was a member of the Raphael Ensemble (sextet), and as well as the piano quartet plays in Arpège (flute, viola, harp and horn). She has made guest appearances with the Florestan Trio, the Nash Ensemble, Manchester Camerata, the Britten Sinfonia and Andras Schiff's orchestra Capella Andrea Barca, among others.

Louise plays a brothers Amati viola made in Cremona in 1616.

 

 
Richard Jenkinson - cello  
 
 Richard Jenkinson started to play the cello at the age of five and after winning a Scholarship from Derbyshire County Council studied with Florence Hooton, William Pleeth and Raphael Wallfisch. He was awarded a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where he won all the cello and chamber music prizes and in 1994 after a performance of the Dvorak Concerto in the Barbican he was awarded the coveted Gold Medal. This led to a performance in Caracas with the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra. In the autumn of 1994 Richard was awarded a top prize in the Vittorio Gui Chamber Music Competition in Florence, Italy and this led to him recording the Complete Sonatas and Variations by Martinu. In 1995 Richard was appointed Principal cello with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and during his three years with the orchestra performed, as soloist, Boccherini, Lutoslawski and both Haydn Cello Concertos. In 1998 he was appointed principal cello with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and since this time has been guest principal with the BBC Scottish, Halle, Northern Sinfonia, Philharmonia and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras.

Richard is a keen chamber musician and plays regularly with the Innovation Chamber Ensemble (which he founded in 2001 with CBSO colleagues), Frith Piano Quartet and for the last five years has organized the CBSO Centre Stage Series of chamber music concerts. He has performed abroad in China, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Malta and the U.S.A.

Richard plays on a cello by G B Grancino of Milan circa 1692

  Reviews 

"The Frith Piano Quartet delivered a programme defined by excellent musicianship, strong ensemble work and fine solo performances which was clearly appreciated by the audience."

Georgina Coburn, Inverness 2009

  "Their powerfully sonorous playing was marked by the utmost precision; I don't think I've ever heard such utterly unanimous pizzicatos."

Mike Wheeler, Derby Press 2008

 "The Frith Piano Quartet perfectly captured Fauré's stylish sublimation of suffering"

 Nigel Jarrett, Monmouth 2008

 "The superb blend of the strings, the supreme finesse and sparkle with which the piano part was imbued, the luxuriant and sensuous ambiance of the slow movement, the consistently strong, powerful rhythmic presence and, naturally consummate musicianship - all were there."

Brian Paynes, Westmoreland Gazette 2008

  "The fireworks from the pianist (Benjamin Frith) in the first movement were matched in spades by Robert Heard(violin), Louise Williams(viola) and Richard Jenkinson(cello), excitement being intense yet controlled."

Susan Allison, Cockermouth 2008

 "The Frith piano quartet played (Schumann's Quartet) like they'd been playing it all their lives, and made the best possible case for a work which comes close to that crowning achievement, the Octet."

Susan Allison, Cockermouth 2008

The Frith Piano Quartet is represented by Michael Brewer Artist Management (contact Michael Brewer on 01600 711608 or e-mail mbam@dsl.pipex.com)