Matthew Kaner: Chamber Music

Limited copies available

Storytelling and making – craft and narrative, and the ways in which they are both enabled and complicated by the presence of music – lie at the heart of Matthew Kaner’s compositional world, as revealed on this debut album devoted to his work.

Extended solo works for basset clarinet and for cello are presented by stellar soloists Mark Simpson and Guy Johnson respectively. Violin-and-piano duo Benjamin Baker and Daniel Lebhardt, fresh from their triumphant Delphian debut 1942’: Prokofiev – Copland – Poulenc, are joined by cellist Matthias Balzat in Kaner’s evocative and playful Piano Trio, while clarinettist Kate Romano leads the Goldfield Ensemble in a nocturnal diptych for clarinet quintet.

'Glints in The Water; Searching For The Dimmest Stars; The Kestrel; Fireside Tale – all descriptive movement titles to works generically labelled by composer Matthew Kaner as, say, Piano Trio or Flight Studies for Basset Clarinet. Yet they are key in defining the ultra-perceptive imagery, textural delicacy and illuminating precision of this evocative chamber music by the 36-year-old Londoner, performed by the Goldfield Ensemble with help from cellists Guy Johnson and Matthias Balzat, basset clarinettist Mark Simpson, violinist Benjamin Baker and pianist Daniel Lebhardt. They present such highly imaginative and truly picturesque music with adeptness and affection, from the spectral reflectiveness of Suite for Solo Cello and flecked tracery of Five Highland Scenes, to the overriding quiescence of the Piano Trio, the dreamy intricacy of At Night for Clarinet Quintet, and the swooping virtuosity of Flight Studies. Kaner is a composer worth getting to know better'

"In her booklet note, Kate Romano draws attention to Kaner's upbringing in a family of artisans and craftsmen, and there is a tangible sense of the well-made in each of these carefully put together works ... [Searching for the Dimmest Stars brings] ethereal, sparse textures shot through with faint gleams... Kaner's sense of descriptive narrative is exemplified by Mark Simpson's delicate, swooping, wheeling and soaring rendition of 'The Swift'... indeed, the performances throughout, by a clutch of some of Britain's finest chamber players, are extraordinarily good. The Goldfield Ensemble and the Baker-Lebhardt-Balzat trio are first rate, and Baker and Lebhardt catch the patchwork tone pictures of the Highland Sceneswith equal acuity ... Excellent sound in a dryish acoustic"



"Much shimmers and glistens in Matthew Kaner's Music ... this first disc devoted solely to his works, focuses on his chamber music, and writing for small-scale forces seems to play to his strengthes ... never too sweet or pastoral-sentimental, unlike some of his English forebears, his music is more like Messiaen in its tougher, repeasted insistence though more earth-rooted than the Frenchman ... Kaner can do lightness, suprise and deftness when he wishes to, just listen to the first movement of his Piano Trio - that really is a pearl of a piece"

"Mathew Kaner is a talented composer as this debut disc of his chamber music demonstrates. In producing this album, Delphian is introducing a composer who adeptly and evocatively reveals so many characteristics of the instruments for which he writes ... As an introduction to his music, the 36-year-old Kaner is joined by gifted musicians who skilfully bring each composition to life. The textural elements of each score show an in-depth understanding for the different instruments. His music has moments of beauty, hauntingly so, especially At Night, which is made up of a pair of movements inspired on the theme of night. The Goldfield Ensemble superbly help convey the storytelling. The sweeping phrases in Flight Studiesfor basset clarinet with its deep resonant sounds certainly depicts the flight patterns of a kestrel and swift. The instrument’s tonal colours that Mark Simpson so adroitly displays are captivating ... As a debut disc of contemporary music this is an album that has a lot to offer, it is infused with a composer’s personality whose acuity and creative vision is vividly and descriptively exhibited. His melodic lines and rhythmic pulse cement his credentials as an innovative and original composer"

"This starry cast of performers are eloquent advocates for Kaner’s music, and the album boasts the high recording quality you expect of Delphian. Mark Simpson plays Flight Studies on basset clarinet. His virtuosity makes light of the swoops and jumps of these evocations of the swift and the kestrel. There is narrative in these pieces – as in everything on the disc – but also a melodic grace, which is perhaps less evident elsewhere. Guy Johnston plays the Suite for Cello, whose eight short movements segue into each other, with a ghostly otherworldliness. This is not the cello in heroic mode but rather as quizzical outsider, and it makes sense that its tentative lyricism emerged from the lockdown of 2020 ... The Piano Trio, played by Benjamin Baker (violin), Daniel Lebhardt (piano) and Matthias Blazt (cello) is languid for the first two movements before bursting into activity in the third, finding unlikely interest in ribbons of ascending scales. The Goldfield Ensemble, led by clarinettist Kate Romano (who also contributes the thoughtful booklet essay), find the mercurial narrative in At Night ... as with the whole disc there is characterful momentum that makes musical sense, whatever the story it conjures up for any particular listener"

Bernard Hughes - THE ARTS DESK

Release Date: 11 November 2022
Catalogue No: DCD34231
Total playing time: 69:57

Recorded on 4-6 & 30 January and
24 February 2022 at Stapleford Granary, Cambridge
Producers/Engineers: Paul Baxter & James Waterhouse
24-bit digital editing: James Waterhouse
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Design: Eliot Garcia
Booklet editor: Henry Howard
Cover: Sabine Kaner, Eroded Lines, embroidery;
photo: Jake Kaner
Session photography: foxbrushfilms.com


At Night for Clarinet Quinet
i. The Land of Nod

Album Booklet

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