Kurt Roger – Clarinet Quintet
– Piano Sonata
– Piano Trio
– Variations on an Irish Air

Robert Plane, clarinet | Gould Piano Trio | Emily Beynon, flute | David Adams, viola | Mia Cooper, violin

(Naxos 8.572238)

This Naxos program presents four substantial works requiring from one to five musicians. Perhaps the most enduring quality of his music is the amazingly wide variety of styles Roger uses. First off is the Clarinet Quintet …there are many passages of that hyper-romantic yearning and intense lyricism that characterize late Mahler and early Schoenberg. All four works are rendered with an obvious sense of commitment and receive the highest standards of performance. A clear, clean, unfussy acoustic environment adds a further feather in the cap for Kurt Roger.’

‘Sheffield-born pianist Benjamin Frith breathes new life into Kurt Roger’s attractive Piano Sonata, a composer who has slipped from the repertoire. Born in Vienna in 1895, but wedded to the melodic music of a previous era, he moved to the States in 1939 where he was a very much in demand. Frith joins his colleagues in the Gould Piano Trio for the short and highly contrasted Piano Trio, the disc also containing the Clarinet Quintet, infused with nostalgia, and the Variations on an Irish Air. A Well-filled and admirably recorded release.’
Yorkshire Post

‘His musical style is a curious combination of traditional and forward-looking; the opening movement of the Clarinet Quintet is a moderately-paced Allegro, which is stylistically reminiscent of a combination of Tchaikovsky and Mahler. The central movement is deeply romantic in essence and brings to mind early Schoenberg. The music is lyrical, expressive and slightly nostalgic. This work was written shortly before the composer’s death in 1966 and shows a maturity of style, with its elements fully integrated to create a convincing whole. The final movement has a distinctive flair, with fugal entries and dense polyphony. The playing is excellent throughout, with Robert Plane’s silky clarinet sound providing a wonderful additional timbre to the polished strings.’
Musicweb International

‘The Piano Sonata comes from his New York period in 1943, the central movement having traces of Debussy, the piquant harmonies the only sign of its mid 20th century origin. It is here played with the infinite care for detail that has been the hallmark of Benjamin Frith’s previous Naxos discs, the pianist then joining his Gould colleagues for the Piano Trio, it’s three short movements echoing the great Viennese masters of past times.Written in the year before his death, the Clarinet Quintet was to be his last work and contains a feel of nostalgia in the slow movement before a sense of superimposed happiness appears in an animated finale…He could certainly not have wished for more compelling performances, and you will find Roger a much undervalued composer and a worthy discovery.’
David Denton, David’s Review Corner,



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