ELCOCK Chamber Music Vol 1
Steve Elcock’s engaging Clarinet Sextet (2014, rev 2017) started life as a concertino in 2001 and traverses a landscape full of light and shade, culminating in a vibrant final ‘Variations and Theme’, with its invocations of other composers and concluding Mason’s Apron, a traditional folk dance. The Shed Dances (2016) is a clarinet quartet composed in honour of the work of Heinrich Frenkel (1860-1931) in ‘developing exercise rehabilitation’ for patients suffering from ataxia. A set of big-hearted miniatures, the movement titles give clues to their expressive intent (and the composer’s ready wit): ‘Disgruntled waltz’, ‘Petrified minuet’, and so on.
Elcock’s serious side (very audible in his powerful Third Symphony, 10/17) comes to the fore in the knotty First String Trio (2016, reworking a 1998 piece for two violins and viola), and An Outstretched Hand for flute, clarinet, piano and string trio (2015), a moving fantasia inspired by the appalling refugee crisis in North Africa and the Middle East. The ‘outstretched hand’ is a fusion – of a hand held out in greeting, pleading for help, rendering assistance – the music cunningly embodying that notion in the development of its musical material.
The performances are marvellous. The Veles Ensemble – a string trio – play throughout, with clarinettist Peter Cigleris the pick of their colleagues helping bring this terrific music to life.