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Albums featuring The Usk Ensemble
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Piano Quintet • Elegy • Clarinet Quintet
Rhapsodic, dramatic works for chamber ensembles played by a line-up of outstanding international artists
The Muse Piano Quintet . The Usk Ensemble
- Timothy Salter : Piano Quintet
- I With steady, relentless motion
- Interlude i fleeting (sound-clip)
- II Calm
- Interlude ii subdued, but purposeful in rhythm
- III Assertive, brisk
- Timothy Salter : Elegy
- Timothy Salter : Clarinet Quintet
- I Flowing
- II Musing - exuberant
- III Peaceful (sound-clip)
- IV With insistent movement
- Piano Quintet
- The number of piano quintets in existence is not large, and many of the best-known ones date from the 19th century. The piano writing in the ensemble works of composers such as Schumann, Brahms and Franck tends to be substantial and even soloistic, in keeping with the grandeur that attached to that instrument in the Romantic period. The tendency towards a solo nature for the piano in the medium of the piano quintet is furthered by the fact that a string quartet presents a homogeneous sound and a piano a very individual one – the piano is likely to emerge as pitted against the quartet.
- I set out to write a work in which the five parts each played an equal rôle, whilst not, I hope, suppressing the richness available from the piano. It has three movements separated by two interludes; the movements are each built with musical ideas that interact, thus making possible a feeling of growth, and the short interludes each consist of a single texture worked through without interruption.
- The Piano Quintet was written between February and June 1990. In March 2000 I made an alternative arrangement of the piece so that it may be performed either by piano and two violins, viola and cello, or by piano and violin, viola, cello and double bass. The latter version is entitled Piano Quintet (variant 2000).
- Elegy is in origin the slow movement from Chameleon, a concerto for alto saxophone with an orchestra of strings and percussion that also exists as a duo for saxophone and piano, composed in 2007. In 2014 I transcribed the movement, under its title Elegy, for clarinet and string quartet. Towards the end of the piece there is reference to the opening phrase of the haunting melody of the English folk song Barbara Allen. The opening chord on the strings of Elegy is that which also opens my choral arrangement of the folk song.
- Clarinet Quintet
- The medium of one woodwind and four string instruments immediately suggests a duality of sound between the reed instrument (in this instance a clarinet) and the homogeneity of the strings. The compositional challenge is in part to widen the textural map of the music by at times incorporating the clarinet within the sound of the strings rather than leaving it to contrast with them. This is made more possible through the tonal range of the clarinet, which has, especially at softer dynamics, a blending quality that enables it to merge with surrounding instruments.
- The Clarinet Quintet is in four movements each of which maintains a single momentum throughout except for the second movement with its slow opening. It was written in 2009.
- Piano Quintet
- The Muse Piano Quintet:
- Yulia Kupriyanova – piano
- Ilya Movchan – violin 1
- Olivia Scheepers – violin 2
- Ilona Bondar – viola
- Jordan Gregoris – cello
- Recorded in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College,
- Oxford on 25 May 2012
- Elegy and Clarinet Quintet
- The Usk Ensemble:
- Rozenn Le Trionnaire – clarinet
- Francesca Barritt – violin 1
- Sophie Mather – violin 2
- Jessica Beeston – viola
- Rebecca Hepplewhite – cello
- Recorded in St John the Evangelist church, Oxford on 11 April 2015
- Recordings engineered and balanced by David Wright