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Hans GÁL (1890–1987)
Chamber Music for Clarinet
Clarinet Quintet, Op. 107 (1977)* [24:36]
Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Op. 97 (1950) [20:28]
Serenade for Clarinet, Violin and Cello, Op. 93 (1935)* [20:19]
Ensemble Burletta (Shelley Levy (clarinet); Katalin Kertész (violin); Joanne Green (violin) (Quintet); Nichola Blakey (viola) (Quintet); Cressida Nash (cello) (Quintet Serenade); Pavel Timofeyevsky (piano) (Trio))
rec. 2015-16, Bengrove House, Wellington School and St Peter's Evercreech, Somerset,

Hans Gál adopted Scotland as his home after the depredations that blew millions from their homes in and around World War Two. His music has done well these last ten years; this after decades of drought. All four symphonies have been recorded by Avie as have the concertante works for cello and for violin; likewise the piano solo music works as played by Leon McCawley. The Quintet and the Trio are the fruit of his years in the UK while the Serenade hales from the 1930s in his native Vienna.

The Quintet, written when the composer was 87, is the epitome of the fluid and bubbling soul of the instrument. The music is in ceaseless flow. What this composer has to say calms and heals. The language is rooted in the autumnal clarinet scores of Brahms and in this case the branches are not that remote from the roots. The music is imbued with an old-fashioned grace and personable dignity.

The Trio, written when Gal had been living in the UK for twelve years, is a degree more playful but just as warm and "deep pile" as the Quintet. Its demeanour is a shade closer to the English pastoral - the cavatina spirit of Finzi to be found in his Concerto and Bagatelles for the instrument.

The four-movement Serenade is as relaxed as the title would lead you to expect. It comprises an intricate Cantabile, a buffeting Spring breeze of a Burletta packed with character, a serenading Intermezzo in constantly changing mood-finery and an affable Giocoso that pauses at 2:20 for one of Gál's delightful melodies: slow, confident and beguiling.

The typically full notes are by Eva Fox-Gál who has done and continues to do so much to keep the Gál flame fuelled and oxygen-renewed.

It’s unusual to see three different locations for these three sets of sessions and all in one county, Somerset. The plushest sound is that for the Quintet although the differences are matters of fine grain. Welcome music radiating confidence, depth and a smile; all ardently performed.

Rob Barnett



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