Soloists from the London Mozart Players


The long-lived Kenneth V. Jones was an all-rounder; conductor, teacher, and film/TV composer, he also wrote a number of concert works, here recorded for the first time.

The Quintet for Piano and Strings from 1967 soon launches into the kind of wrong-note jauntiness of Rawsthorne; this is a bustling movement of pounding energy and motor rhythms. The astringent slow movement stalks through an unsettled landscape before an inconclusive close, while the scurrying finale ties up any loose ends – and promptly stops. At under 13 minutes the piece might feel short-winded, but further hearings prove it to be just admirably concise.

Wind quintets tend to be either cheery and/or pastoral. However, Jones’s Second begins with a fluently serious movement that even suggests hieratic chant. The brief vigoroso chirrups away cheerfully, followed by a slow movement that meanders a little uneasily – think Brian’s Rustic Scenes – before the giocoso finale carouses to a charming conclusion.

Six Easy (Grade) Pieces for cello/violin are openly lyrical and melodic; they recall the anachronistically romantic idiom of Lloyd Webber – William (that is). Mostly slow and reflective, sometimes folk-tinged, if there are more of these somewhere, someone please record them – this is immediately enjoyable music.

Quinquifid from 1980 comprises five pieces for brass. A tense lowering opening and brief spitting allegro recall the theme music for I Claudius, before becoming more serious – plangent without being tragic. Throughout there is intriguing use of hushed echo effects and flutter-tonguing, while the finale picks up the tempo to achieve a rather abrupt ‘Ta Da!’ positive conclusion.

The uneasy melodic shapes of the early Piano Sonata again might evoke Rawsthorne – confident and fluent, and at times tender. The slow movement turns a two-note figure into a heartfelt song of sorrow – a genuinely ‘haunting’ piece for once. If its successor initially threatens to go fugal it happily flowers into something altogether more romantic. Once again, the sonata is admirably concise without leaving the listener short-changed.

Two brief solo cello pieces precede the single-movement String Quartet no 1. In 1950 Hughes called it ’acerbic, gritty’ and the notes reference Bartok and Elizabeth Maconchy, but in today’s perspective its ten polished minutes sound elegant to the point of being debonair. This is one work I wish longer – as an opening movement it would be fine, as a complete work it is unsatisfying.

Coming from Lyrita it is no surprise that performances, recording and documentation are all first class, and if calling this music admirably crafted and enjoyable sounds like a back-handed compliment, let me stress that a second K V Jones disc would definitely be most welcome!

Review by Kevin Mandry