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Roberto GERHARD (1896-1970)
Study for the film Secret People for violin, clarinet and piano (1952) [3:52]
Clarinet Sonata (1928) [3:09]
Dos apunts for violin and piano (1922) [3:30]
Andantino for violin, clarinet and piano (1929) [3:43]
Joaquim HOMS (1906-2003)
Soliloquy for solo clarinet (1972) [3:31]
Impromptu for violin and piano [7:03]
Two inventions for clarinet and piano (1963) [7:05]
Violin Sonata (1941) [13:10]
Trio for violin, clarinet and piano 91974) [8:27]
David Ballasteros (violin) Cristo Barrios (clarinet) Gustavo Díaz-Jerez (piano)
rec. November 2011, Auditorium Adán Martín in Tenerife
COLUMNA MÚSICA 1CM0283 [53:34]

Experience Classicsonline

As Roberto Gerhard was a disciple of Felip Pedrell, so Joaquim Homs was a pupil of Gerhard, one of his only true pupils. The two men were born twenty years apart, Gerhard in Valls, and Homs in Barcelona and it was during the 1930s that Homs took lessons from the older man after Gerhard’s studies with Schoenberg.
Thus there is certainly logic, if not compositional lineage involved in this selection of the two Spanish composers’s chamber music. The booklet is largely silent as to the works performed, however, and only the most basic information is provided, if that. Gerhard’s study for the film Secret People is a sample piece which he submitted with a view to being commissioned to writing the score. The notes say nothing about the film or whether Gerhard’s music was even used, but a check of a film encyclopaedia shows that Gerhard’s music was indeed used in this Ealing film directed by Sidney Cole that concerned European anarchists at loose in pre-war London: maybe Gerhard was chosen to supply a suitably ‘foreign’ touch. Naturally the notes won’t tell you that one of the themes is the traditional Song of the Birds, beautifully textured for the trio of violin, clarinet and piano.
Gerhard’s Clarinet Sonata of 1928 is so brief, at three minutes, that it hardly has time to do more than swirl briskly in a spirited, angular fashion before stopping. His 1929 Andantino is, once again, slight and brief, but well laid out for the chamber forces.
Homs’s 1972 Soliloquy for solo clarinet is representative of his work in a way that the disparate, largely early Gerhard pieces are clearly not. It’s very finely organised and performed but again it lacks development potential at only three minutes in length. The Impromptu for violin and piano is sparer and more elliptical but in its piano chordal depth and the intensity of its violin writing it bears a rather greater of weight than the somewhat understated title would suggest. His Inventions for clarinet exploit deft intervallic interplay, predominantly slowly and thoughtfully, whilst the Solo Violin sonata presents a conventional four-movement plan and ensures suitable colour and contrast. It’s at its best when most urgent. The 1974 Trio has plenty of colour as well, and is a most attractive way to end the recital.
The performances and recordings are fine here. The music is uneven and not representative of Gerhard at his most mature, but that’s inevitable given the dates of composition. It’s more valuable for presenting the Homs pieces, which are quietly imaginative. Apparently he was crippled by shyness and would never speak publically about his music. But the inner man certainly found a way of saying things in these discreet but not evasive chamber works.
Jonathan Woolf

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