In Rhona Clarke’s very first album dedicated solely to her own music, she proves to be one of Ireland’s most interesting and convincing living modern composers. A Different Game (Metier 28561) features the considerable dynamic expressive capabilities of The Fidelio Trio performing six chamber compositions that stand out for the articulate flow of modern musical ideas and the structural strengths of the overarching form each work takes.
The sophisticated advanced modern tonal pallette of her Trios Nos. 2, 3 and 4 (the latter bearing the descriptive title “A Different Game”) have a haunting, sometimes somewhat melancholy caste. They have thematic clout in a slightly neo-classical mode. The Fidelio Trio gives us spirited, detailed readings of the works that feel just right. They also tackle expressively the three additional chamber works that make use of smaller instrumental groupings: “Gleann Da Loch” (for piano solo), the ambient wonders of “Con Coro” for violin, cello and tape, and the reflective cello solo “In Umbra.”
“Piano Trio No. 4 ‘A Different Game'” moves the trio concept along with a spiky, more playfully modern demeanor than Nos. 2 and 3, but in the end each of these works reveal aspects of Clarke’s magnetic compositional personality, her brittle and atmospheric modern lyrical immediacy.
Clarke comes through as an original stylist and a brilliant musical conversationalist on this disk. There is always something there to pique your musical imagination, never a moment when inspiration flags. I find the entire program heartily stimulating and nearly endlessly rewarding.
It makes me want to hear more of her work! And it gives me great pleasure in the listening. Strongly recommended.