> Jeffrey Lewis [JW]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Jeffrey LEWIS (b 1942)

Karen Turner, clarinet
Aoife ni Raghaill, flute
David Jones, piano
Recorded ASC Studios, Macclesfield, July 2000
ASC CS CD43 [69.10]


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Born in Port Talbot, Jeffrey Lewis was awarded an Arts Council bursary on Tippett’s recommendation and has studied with Stockhausen and Ligeti. He performs as pianist and has taught composition at the Leeds College of Music and the University of Wales, Bangor. Since 1992 he has been a full-time composer. Threnody, for piano, is music of stasis with wide-spaced chords, rocking back and forth whereas Cantus, a two movement work for clarinet and piano, hints at eastern influences – chimes, gongs – in the piano writing. Lewis exploits the clarinet’s limpid qualities, contrasting them with the spaced piano chords and either the dripping right hand piano textures or the rather monumental repeated bass chords. In the second movement we can feel the increased animation reflected in greater use of dynamics and intervals and the clarinet’s brooding and almost obsessive quest for an independent line. Teneritas, for flute and piano, is ethereal without becoming fey, grounded by increasingly insistent piano chords and Sonante, the earliest work on this disc and first performed in 1986, is a choppy, fragmentary and tense piece for clarinet and piano. Trilogy, for piano, is the longest piece on the disc. First performed in a BBC Radio 3 broadcast in 1994 it is written in three movements, two slow framing a central animated panel. It has something of the furious simplicity of a Rothko, especially in the opening movement, precisely noted as Lentissimo, intenso e molto expressivo (poco flessibile). The central movement, as sleeve note writer and pianist on the disc, David Jones, reminds us, is an energetic, telescoping of the thematic material of the outer movements. The sound is of necessary clarity and performances are good.

Jonathan Woolf

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