ROBERT GROSLOT (b.1951): Conundrum for Cello and Pano, Sonata for Solo Cello, Unclouded Conversations for 2 Cellos.
Catalogue Number: 10T074
Reference: TXA 17094
Description: These works are approachable, though as the composer suggests with several of his titles he enjoys ambiguity, puzzles, questions and discourse more than solutions and resolution. His idiom is based largely on tonal harmony, rarely used in a conventionally functional sense. All the pieces have a restless energy - extremely so in some cases - and unpredictable rhythmic vitality that nonetheless maintains an illusion of satisfying stability through a degree of repetitive or continuous pulse. The 17-minute Conundrum is a high-intensity work of almost frantic energy in its faster sections, which predominate. Were this its only mode of expression then it would succeed as a high velocity thrill ride, but the intermittent intrusion of brief episodes of contrasting material suggests a more complicated narrative, questioning and unexplained, though ultimately the music rushes past these doubts and uncertainties to a tumultuous conclusion. The Conversations - Fable, Debate, Pillow Talk, Questioning and Prophecy - are unclouded by any complexity of texture - the two cellos converse in clear melodic lines and a relatively simple harmonic language, but the dialogue is intricate and open-ended, resolved only in the final, reflective 'Prophecy'. Devices such as canonic imitation, phrases in contrary motion, question-and-answer phrasing and imitation, along with humorous, teasing gentle dance rhythms give the impression of discussions in which both participants are fully involved and genuinely value each other's opinions. The large, cohesively structured solo sonata shares this sense of dialogue, more complicated and inward-looking this time, like a questing inner monologue or soliloquy. The first movement is based on groups of themes which return varied and transformed throughout, resulting in extraordinary narrative cogency and intensity of argument. The cello writing is of the highest order of virtuosity throughout. The slow movement is a barcarolle with a far greater sense of harmonic stability and repose. The finale, “dreams, fantasies, diversions (literally "chasing away of thoughts”) suggests that the tormented philosopher of the first movement has escaped the bounds of rigorous, rational questioning thought, at least for a while, into a more imaginative, freer, even playful relationship with reality. Ilia Yourivich Laporev (cello), Ilia Laporev Jr. (second cello), Dasha Moroz (piano).