Peter Fribbins
Programme Notes
Porphyria’s Lover
The title comes from the Robert Browning poem of the same name (1836). For me, this is a remarkable poem, full of passion, vivid imagery and imbued with touches of madness and distortion (here literally in the form of the disease porphyria) which seems typical of much Romantic art.

I have often in my mind paired the aesthetics of different poets and composers, and when I think of Robert Browning, I always think of Robert Schumann. There seem to be a number of parallels, not merely their chronology, but also their expressive worlds.
A delicate, almost seductive madness and a slightly twisted reality seem so much a part of Schumann’s aesthetic and of this poem. Thus, this piece forms my musical response to the Browning through a kind of Schumannesque filter.
I have attempted in some way to capture the delicacy of Schumann, his elegiac side, the passion, and also that sense of early Romantic tender warmth (that on occasions can seem almost smothering and suffocating). The gentle madness takes the form of dissonant clusters, which return in different forms throughout the work (I was thinking in particular of the strange dissonances in ‘Einen Blumen’ from the piano pieces Waldscenen, Op.82). Also there is a recurring Brahms-like melodic idea (marked ‘teneramente’ in the score) which also returns in different Schumannesque guises, sometimes as a transparent shadow of before, sometimes darker and twisted, sometimes slower or quicker.

There are three movements: the quick central movement is followed by the last without a break.

‘Peter Fribbins’ Porphyria’s Lover is a wonderful dramatic scena…
the movements are bristling with hard edge energy and also include beautiful lyrical passages.
There is a real sense of passion and pathos throughout the work.’
MU Magazine
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