ROB KEELEY (b.1960): Quartet for 4 Clarinets, Clarinet Sonata, Piano Trio No. 2, 6 Duos for 2 Violins, 5 Bagatelles for Clarinet, Distil for Vibraphone and Piano.
Catalogue Number: 08V059
Description: Keeley is drawn to chamber forces as the ideal medium for his witty, elegant and accessible music. The clarinet quartet - that's four clarinets - is not an ensemble commonly encountered nowadays, but Keeley reinvigorates it in the spirit, if not quite the harmonic vocabulary, of Mozart. The second of two "sorbetti" - brief "palate cleansing" interludes between the main movements, the last of which is a substantial set of lively variations on a genial theme - is actually based on a fragment of Mozart. Bach's plaited counterpoint is the model for the violin Duos, while the classically proportioned Clarinet Sonata recalls Brahms in its generously textured piano part. The work is in three movements; a sonata allegro, a short reflective interlude and a rondo finale. Distil stands somewhat apart from the other works here, focused as it is on the beguiling blended sonority of piano and vibraphone rather than any discursive musical argument. It enchants in the change-ringing of chords between the instruments, without developing or progressing for six minutes. The clarinet Bagatelles sound like tiny studies for a piece in the style of Britten. The Piano Trio sounds as though it was intended to fit seamlessly into a programme of 'classical' chamber music without copying its antecedents, Haydn and Chopin. Victoria Samek (clarinet), Rob Keeley (piano), Aquinas Trio, Caroline Balding, Ruth Ehrlich (violin) and others.