Various Artists

Robert Janssens: Musique de Chambre, Vol. 1

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Despite his prolific output and relative fame in his native Belgium, performances and recordings of the works of Robert Janssens are hard to come by. Thanks to this Pavane Recordings album, listeners can be exposed to a thorough introduction to Janssens' chamber works. What is immediately noticeable after listening through this CD is that Janssens does not have any one particular compositional style. Even though the works heard here come from only about 20 years or so of Janssens' life, he visits almost a century of compositional aesthetics and styles, each with equal mastery. Add to this the fact that Janssens composes for both traditional and non-traditional ensembles, and listeners are given a selection of chamber music unlike any other. The performances heard here are all generally satisfactory, although none of them are truly stunning. For example, Alexandre Debrus, performing the cello sonata that was dedicated to him, does a splendid job when the music calls for long, legato lines, but has difficulty maintaining clarity when the notes come at a more rapid pace. Intonation and sound quality are occasional problems in the larger ensembles, such as the Silver Trio for flute, violin, and cello and "Conversations" for flute, clarinet, horn, and bassoon. Still, these works are unlikely to be found elsewhere, and this disc is still a good choice for those looking for new examples of outside-the-box chamber music.

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