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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Clifford Crawley, Moods and Miniatures, Maureen Volk


There are some composers out there right now, as pretty much at any time, that can make their importance known to you with just a few notes, for they have a unique character that comes through in a rapid way. That is true for me of the English-Canadian musical stalwart Clifford Crawley (1929-2016). I am listening happily to an anthology of his work that came in the mail recently. It is aptly titled Moods and Miniatures (Centrediscs  CMCCD 28621). 

He was born in England and taught and composed there from 1952 through to 1973, when he came to Canada and taught Composition and Music Education at Queen's University for the remainder of his working life. He came to know pianist Maureen Volk on moving to St. John's in 2002. 

Maureen heads up the ensemble on piano for this lovely collection of compositions. The solo piano works are the bedrock showcases in many ways for his very characteristic, tonal, post-Impressionistic, post-Satie-n playful and whimsical expressions. Ms. Volk handles them all with a beautiful sympathy that makes them all shine--"iPieces for Piano," "Toccatas for Piano," "Twelve Preludes" and then along with Beverley Diamond the "Kalamaika: Suite for Piano Duet." It is a furtherance of Satie, Ravel-Debussy brilliance taken in a personal direction that has a real charm, that is a true pleasure to hear.

This one should appeal to a wide swatch of music lovers. It makes me want to hear more! Do not miss this!

But for that matter the chamber pieces included here for clarinet and piano ("Ten A Penny Pieces"), and for flute, clarinet and piano ("pieces-of-eight") are equally original, personal and filled with whimsy and humor.

No matter how you want to slice the order of the music, this is a fine album, showing us a musical sould fully oroginal and filled with brilliance, I would love to hear more of Crawley after so happily digesting this one! Highly recommended.

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