I can guarantee that anything Claire Edwardes does (whether solo or with Ensemble Offspring) is going to be absolutely fascinating. This album is comprised of new percussion music written for Edwardes by Australian female composers, and I was quite taken with the fact that several of these works are intended for late high-school or early tertiary percussion students. I love the idea that these new works aren’t just going to disappear overnight, as so many new pieces tend to.
There’s quite a variety of musical languages on this disc, too – Maria Grenfell’s three-movement Stings and Wings skitters through a web of accents and sudden turns of melody, while the floating textures of Alice Chance’s Mirroring reminded me of some of Brian Eno’s pioneering Ambient series. Peggy Polias’ Receptor responds to COVID-19 with a questioning work that leads towards a rich chordal ending, while Bree van Reyk’s Slipstreams plays with the vibraphone’s colours, with tolling notes buzzing and echoing throughout.
Anne Cawrse’s Dance Vignettes gives Edwardes plenty to play with, with meditations and rushing cross-rhythms pulsing throughout. Elena Kats-Chernin’s two pieces here (one old, Violet’s Etude, and one new, Poppy’s Polka) are lovely little works, and they develop beautifully – the groove that Violet’s Etude kicks into partway through the piece is great fun.
I think the highlight for me, though, was Ella Macens’ Falling Embers, which has the most ethereal sounds conjured out of a vibraphone and crotales in a moving reflection on the fires of the 2020 summer. An outstanding release.
Composers: Maria Grenfell, Elena Kats-Chernin, Ella Macens et al.
Works: Works for percussion
Performer: Claire Edwardes
Label: Move MD3459