This new CD from Métier is Irish composer Rhona Clarke’s first album dedicated to her own music, skilfully played by The Fidelio Trio (Mary Dullea, piano; Adi Tal, cello; Darragh Morgan violin).
If you’re put off by modern composers, don’t be: while this is a melancholy collection of work, it’s never hard to approach, and the sound is varied (as much as one can be with a trio playing melancholy music, anyway).
Piano Trio No 3 opens (it’s two sections, Tenderly and Expectantly) and it’s the most free-flowing piece on the CD, and a good opener. There are some jazz influences here, reflected in a rather more spirited performance than what follows.
Gleann Da Loch is next, for piano only, and sees the CD turn more sparse in sound. It’s inspired by a lake (the title means “Glenn of two lakes”) and is evocative of mountains reflected in the still water of a lake.
Piano Trio No 2 (which was on a previous Métier CD Dancing In Daylight) is slow and reflective, and in part inspired by Bartok, according to the sleeve notes.
Con Coro is, as the name suggests, to be performed with choir, though the vocals are those of Clarke sampled and repeated, as she sings a plainchant. There is more of a sense of foreboding with this piece. Clarke wanted it to be played to a blindfolded audience, who thus would not know which parts were tape and which were live, or which the direction the music was coming from. It would have been eerie; there’s a section early on with the cello pulsing ominously like a heartbeat.
The title track is Piano Trio No 4 A Different Game, dedicated to The Fidelio Trio and again using samples. The closing piece is In Umbra, for solo cello, intended to be a contemplative ending to the CD, but it is a thoughtful album throughout.