Monday, 28 September 2009

Alice Verne-Bredt: A Brief Review in The Music Student

Mrs Alice Verne-Bredt has written three Phantasies-works in one movement of the order revived by the Cobbett Competitions. What appears to be the earliest of the three is for pianoforte quartet: it is written in an easy, flowing style - a style that is familiar and a little out of date, as much out of date, perhaps ,as Goring Thomas; but natural, and what one of our great authorities would probably describe by his favourite adjective, ‘nice’. It shows the composer's familiarity with the best models of pianoforte writing, and a musical thought that is not beyond the means of expression at her command. There is a certain nobility in the chief (minor) theme which makes one impatient of the banalité of the accompaniment ­devices to which she has had recourse.
A published Phantasy for Pianoforte Trio shows an advance in workmanship. There is greater freedom of rhythm already evinced by the first subject being cast in 5/4 time. This is a form of emancipation which always seems a little artificial in composers of Western Europe, but in the present case it is interesting as show­ing a widening of the imagination. That the second subject should relapse into 6/8, with a rather obvious arpeggio accompaniment, must be regarded not merely as inability on the composer's part to sustain the more complicated rhythm, but as a commendable feeling for contrast. Good use is made of the 5/4 theme as a link between the second subject and an Adagio section; and its employment as Coda is thoroughly musical, and gives a feeling of unity to the work. Will chamber music players who have a library subscription kindly note that this work is published by Schott, and make its acquaintance at first hand.
A Quintet (MS.) for piano and strings naturally makes more demand upon the composer’s experience and it cannot be said that Mrs. Bredt has been altogether successful in this combination. The layout is scrappy. No instrument, not even the piano, has a rich part and there are long silences for one or other voice which have a leaden rather than a golden suggestion. There is perhaps more attempt to free the strings than in the other two compositions but the effects are often thin and the construction halting. In its suaver passages the work reminds one of the style of Edward Schutt's charming Walzer-Märchen. Trio, but one feels that the work as a whole is not the composer’s favourite child- not that much love was lost in the writing.
The Music Student Chamber music supplement July 1914 pp.97-8 [with minor edits]

The Phantasy Trio can be heard on English Romantic Piano Trios by the Summerhayes Trio

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