Peter Cigleris / Duncan Honeybourne / Gareth Hulse / Tippett Quartet

Dedication: The Clarinet Chamber Music of Ruth Gipps

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Dedication: The Clarinet Chamber Music of Ruth Gipps Review

by James Manheim

The music of Ruth Gipps has seen only sporadic revivals despite the growing interest in music by women composers, but this fine release on the Somm label should help her cause along. Gipps was an oboist until her career was sidelined by a hand injury, and she wrote a great deal for that instrument and for the clarinet, the instrument of her husband, Robert Baker. Some of the latter are recorded here, including The Kelpie of Corrievreckan, the piece that launched the pair's relationship. Like Deep Space Nine's Odo, a kelpie is a shape-shifter, and the piece offers a good introduction to the evocative and slyly humorous world of Gipps' pictorial works. Chamber music is her forte, and she is equally effective in abstract works like the central Quintet for oboe, clarinet, and string trio, Op. 16, wherein the handling of the winds is nothing short of exquisite. Gipps studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams, and one can detect his imprint on her music; it is in a quiet, pastoral vein, but Gipps' voice is her own, and she extends the harmonies she inherited considerably. The performers, led by clarinetist Peter Cigleris and the Tippett Quartet, are ideally attuned to this music, and Somm's sound from the Menuhin Hall is flawlessly appropriate. This is a release that will remake the 20th century British chamber music repertory somewhat.

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