Chamber Music of Kenneth V Jones (1924-2020). Soloists from the London Mozart Players. © 2024 Lyrita Recorded Edition


Fresh and Interesting

GEOFF PEARCE listens to chamber music by British composer Kenneth V Jones

'... a valuable discovery.'


I have to be honest and say that I had never heard of this composer until I received this recording. It appears though that he was well known in the UK, especially for his numerous film scores, his work as a music professor, adjudicator for the Associated Board, and as founder of the Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra. He also wrote a considerable amount of non-film music, of which this is a recording of some of his chamber music.

The first work on the disc, Quintet for Piano and String Quartet, Op 26, was written in 1967 and is in three movements. The work is representative of the music of the period it was composed in. Whilst not in any particular key, because of the freshness, melodic shape and the lively rhythms and constant interplay between the piano and strings, I find this a very refreshing and quite compact work. Each movement is about five minutes in duration and the composer is economical with his material - a feature I found throughout the works on this disc. I found the middle slow movement the most satisfying, but I did enjoy the piece as a whole. The performers had a great understanding of the work and have produced a compelling recording.

Listen — Kenneth V Jones: Adagio (Piano Quintet)
(SRCD.434 track 2, 2:29-3:14) ℗ 2024 Lyrita Recorded Edition :

Wind Quintet No 2, Op 2 (1952) was commissioned by UNESCO. It is a piece comprising four short contrasting movements, and the ensemble who perform are not only very fine individual players, but also provide one of the most balanced wind quintets that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I wish I had come across this work when I was a member of a wind quintet. It is engaging and not too difficult for an accomplished player to perform, and would be a delight to most audiences.

Listen — Kenneth V Jones: Giocoso (Wind Quintet No 2)
(SRCD.434 track 7, 0:01-0:44) ℗ 2024 Lyrita Recorded Edition :

This is followed by six short tracks that Kenneth Jones wrote for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools in 1971. These pieces are lovely short works, most for Grade 4 or Grade 6. But there is a simple Grade 1 piece. These are written in a very tonal melodic style, and are very fit for the purpose they were composed for. They would be enjoyed by most people preparing for an exam, and would also be great little encore pieces.

The next work on the disc is Quinquifid for Brass Quintet (1980). This five movement work shows the composer's skill as a writer for brass instruments, and in this respect he really shines. The movements are all short, and again very enjoyable to listen to. They require quite high skills from the performers. Kenneth Jones is a composer who does not pad his works with material that could be regarded as 'stuffing' - he says what he needs to succinctly, and this keeps the listener's attention.

Listen — Kenneth V Jones: Jiocoso - Andante lyrico (Quinquifid)
(SRCD.434 track 16, 1:18-1:58) ℗ 2024 Lyrita Recorded Edition :

The Piano Sonata, Op 4 (1950) is in three contrasting movements. Again the composer does not waste any time getting said what he wants to say, and it is one of the things I do like about his music. There are always strong tonal centres to this music, and Kenneth Jones does not write music that would shock most listeners. Because of the strong rhythmic drive, interesting textural contrasts and melodic structure, I find his style quite attractive. The last movement is particularly engaging.

Listen — Kenneth V Jones: Rondo Burlesque (Piano Sonata)
(SRCD.434 track 21, 0:01-0:43) ℗ 2024 Lyrita Recorded Edition :

This is followed by Two Contrasts, for solo cello. These were dedicated to Margaret Montcrieff, who was teaching his son for a time. The two short pieces form a great contrast, the first being lively and humorous and the second, more introspective.

The final work on the recording, is a single movement work divided into two section. It is the String Quartet No 1, Op 6 (1950). The first section is slow and somewhat wistful, and the tempo increases until the second section, which is much longer, appears. This is a section of strong rhythms and is somewhat gritty in texture, but with lovely melodic passages too.

Listen — Kenneth V Jones: Allegro (String Quartet No 1)
(SRCD.434 track 25, 3:08-3:57) ℗ 2024 Lyrita Recorded Edition :

This is a very well-programmed disc. The music is fresh and interesting, and the composer is unknown to many. The performers are very good indeed. The sound on the disc is very pleasing to listen to, and the attached booklet is informative. I am very impressed with this music of Kenneth V Jones, and I am sure for many listeners, this recording will be a valuable discovery. I would love to hear some of his larger scale works, especially his oboe concerto.

Copyright © 24 April 2024 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia



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