The "following on" link between the music of Francis Poulenc and British composer Tim Ewers is really pretty tenuous. It consists mostly of four notes from the beginning of the Poulenc Sonata for oboe and piano, the composer's valedictory work. It occurred to Ewers, he writes, that "if I were to use this motif as a compositional starting point, it would lead me to very different places," and so it does in the work Following On, which does not follow on the Poulenc sonata but instead concludes the disc. Beyond that, Ewers' music does not sound much like Poulenc's, and anyone coming to the disc hoping to find an updated version of Poulenc's elegant neo-classicism may be disappointed. Ewers does say that Poulenc's "melodic invention" and "the idea of writing effective musical lines" lie behind his own work, but these are similarities at the most hazily general level. What you really have here are some repertory works paired with those by a contemporary composer, a common enough recital concept, and here the news is good. British chamber ensemble the Fibonacci Sequence delivers a gorgeous performance of the oboe sonata, which includes both an Elégie and a Déploration among its three movements (the center one is a zippier Scherzo) and increasingly seems one of classical music's great swan songs. The gentle Sonata for flute and piano and the single-movement Mélancolie for piano are just as good. The Ewers pieces include works for oboe solo, flute solo, piano solo, flute and piano, oboe and piano, and the whole trio, and they generally avoid strong tonal movement; there is some use of extended techniques, especially in Solitaire (1999). It doesn't sound like Poulenc, but it's pleasantly varied and not dull. Guild's clear sound, accomplished in a studio at Britain's Kingston University, is a plus. Booklet notes are in English and German.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sonata for Oboe and Piano|
|Sonata for Flute and Piano|