Robert Gibson: Flux and Fire

Reviewed on Thu 30 Aug, 2018

Image rich and poetically inclined, Robert Gibson’s music carries itself with a lightly-worn intensity as stringent as it is supple.

This collection of string pieces composed in the decade from 1996 serves as a fine introduction to a composer exquisitely alert to atmosphere and mood. Image rich and poetically inclined, Robert Gibson’s music carries itself with a lightly-worn intensity as stringent as it is supple. There’s structural strength, too, loosely articulated in the Twelve Poems, evocative miniature character studies for violin and piano spun off with watercolour immediacy. The titular quartet references Heraclitus and the Rwandan genocide with anger and compassion in a piece both vivid and visceral. Gibson’s second quartet, Soundings, explores the mahogany-rich timbres of the double bass (the instrument he played for several American orchestras and various jazz ensembles) with pleasingly rich and varied results. Likewise, the three versions of Night Music – respectively for solo cello, viola and violin – that throw intriguingly variegated light on Gibson’s pleasing blend of quicksilver lyricism and quiet virtuosity.
–Michael Quinn