A bagatelle is a trifle (the literal meaning of the word refers to an early form of pinball), but composers from Beethoven on down have perversely written works that invested the form with great importance. So it is with many of the bagatelles on this little Welsh release, although the early ones by Welsh composer Daniel Jones are pretty thin. Jones achieved considerable renown in the mid-20th century despite being right in the sour spot between atonality and tonality, and he devised a metrical system that influenced Boris Blacher among others. There is not much evidence of that in the bagatelles here, which in the latter two sets seem influenced by Bartók's short pieces and are paired on the album with a set of them. This collection appears on a Welsh label, complete with Welsh and English notes, and a characteristically Welsh quality has been claimed for Jones' music. It's hard to hear (maybe it's a Swansea thing), even in this confident performance by Welsh pianist Llyr Williams, but the final set of seven Jones bagatelles takes a step beyond Bartók both tonally and rhythmically, and offers some terse, beautifully formed utterances. A worthwhile revival of music by a composer who really fit none of the 20th century's trends.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Bagatelles: First Set|
|Bagatelles: Second Set|
|Bagatelles: Third Set|