Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Voices from the Ancient World.
Three Minute Philosophy.
Edward McGUIRE
Celtic Knotwork.
Django BATES
Bird Tableau.
Scottish Flute Trio (Laura Baillie, Janet Larsson, Ruth Morley, flutes) with Tim Williams (percussion).
Metier MSV CD92041 [DDD] [47'50]

With programming skills revealing a searching imagination and technique to match, the Scottish Flute Trio deserves every success. If the idea of three-quarters of an hour of flute music for flute ensemble seems anathema to you, I do urge you to at least try to hear this fascinating selection of contemporary music.

Each of the six movements of Thea Musgrave's Voices from the Ancient World presents an invocation of a different mythical figure. Eos, Goddess of the Dawn, is portrayed mainly by scalic motion, whereas wind chimes help to conjure up the gentle world of Pan. Flutes are, of course, eminently suited to depicting Boreas (God of the North Wind): the rhythmic contributions from Tim Williams help to offset and emphasise the various cross rhythms here. Selene, the Moon-Goddess is treated to appropriately glassy textures. Musgrave's imagination throughout is unfailing, and the Scottish Flute Trio rise to every challenge.

Gordon McPherson is currently Composer in Residence at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. His Three Minute Philosophy (which paradoxically lasts for nearly a quarter of an hour) has the flutes playing mainly as a unit, with added percussion. It has a hypnotic quality that makes sideways reference to minimalism without ever drawing on it directly.

Edward McGuire's Celtic Knotwork operates on an entirely different time-scale, moving slowly from unison to elaborate polyphony and back again. The opening is tremendously restful and its sense if inevitability is most convincing. Finally, Django Bates' Bird Tableau (whose initial title was to be Feasibility Studies) has the fascinating starting point of trying to lure birds back to the urban jungle of London by describing a day in the life of a group of birds in music. Almost inevitably, there is a reference also to Charlie 'Bird' Parker in the course of things.

This is not a specialist disc for flautists: rather, it is a delightful, multi-faceted outing into some of the side-roads of contemporary music. Why not take a trip?


Colin Clarke



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