So assuming we start with only limited knowledge of him or his music, we can at least hear that he left this world while in a rather sombre mood. If one had to pin down one key characteristic of Roger’s style, it would be a sensitivity to the nature of individual instruments, when he scores them as interactively as he does here.
For example, in the Quintet for clarinet, two violins, viola and cello, he lets the clarinet participate in proceedings, rather than dominate them, finding a pitch for it that at times actually masks its identity as a clarinet. Given that the next item here happens to be the earliest of these works, his Piano Sonata (1943), the fact they share the same feeling means we do not need long to mark a consistency in Roger’s work. On the way through, he lifts the mood with a slightly less dour feel at mid-point for the Trio, and reveals a shade more thoughtfulness in the earlier Variations.
Roger writes with no sign of heavy-handedness, delivering an overall sound that is modern, tonal mid-20th century, without conforming to any particular program or movement. The overall experience is that of an agreeable chamber session – a good-value CD with potential for more enjoyment to come. If nothing else, this release makes one eager to discover more about Roger’s musical proclivities.