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Classical Music Review

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Forever Beeler
Sonatas & Soli of Alan Beeler


Composer: Alan Beeler
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 10 March 2017

Forever Beeler represents a sampling of composer Alan Beeler’s prolific output throughout his musical career, which is generally defined by his commitment to compositional craft and structural clarity. The works featured on this album also reveal a playfulness lying just under the surface of Beeler’s compositional perspective...

Forever Beeler will appeal greatly to the composer's fans. This quality of Alan Beeler’s music is most notable in the seven sonatas for piano, often accompanied by another instrument, included in this release. Here, Beeler crafts engaging conversations between the players at his disposal – he employs a great deal of imitative writing and a more roaming style than in the more concise works on this album.

A particularly clear example of Beeler’s fluid sense of style occurs in the second movement of his 'Sonata for Clarinet and Piano', which is dominated by a subtle “swing” characteristic as well as the “cakewalk rhythm” popular in early twentieth century ragtime music.

One of the most deeply intriguing works here is the 'Three Early Pieces for Piano', which ranks among the first music Beeler formally composed and published. These short pieces exemplify the directness of Beeler’s compositional voice, as they clearly develop and resolve a singular musical idea. In addition to being succinct, finely crafted piano miniatures, they stand as evidence to this album’s unique offerings to listeners.

While, personally, I'm not normally a fan of modern, experimental classical music (to me it feels a little too much like rebranded Jazz), there's no escaping the fact that Beeler's personality comes to the fore in almost every track here.

'Sonata for Clarinet & Piano - II' was a personal highlight, while 'Sonata for Clarinet & Piano - III' is a more playful, tongue in cheek affair.

The album contains 48 tracks (1 hr, 20 min, 47 sec) and while this won't be to everyone's tastes, it's an interesting look at the work of one composer's ability to push the medium with his output over the years. Whether you're a fan of his work or a relative newcomer, this is worth checking out. Be warned though, it's an album you'll either love or not get on with.


Darren Rea

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