This disc is the result
of a long-term collaboration between
esteemed percussion virtuoso Colin Currie
and composer/pianist Dave Maric. The
pair met when performing as part of
the Steve Martland Band in the mid-1990s.
The CD was funded by the Borletti-Buitoni
Trust. All the works on this disc were
composed between 2000 and 2006, and
make use of Currie’s percussion, with
pairings with other instruments, including
trumpet, organ and electronics.
The opening work is
Predicaments, a ten minute piece
in two movements for percussion and
piano, with the composer playing piano.
The piano often takes an accompanying
role, blending well to become part of
the percussion section. The duo has
an excellent sense of ensemble. From
the outset, we are taken on a journey
into Dave Maric’s captivating sound-world.
Even the slower paced opening of the
first movement has energy and momentum
which maintains the listener’s interest.
The movement drives forwards towards
syncopated piano chords, over which
the percussion line demonstrates Currie’s
more than impressive virtuoso technique.
The second movement is faster, with
a relentless driving semiquaver pulse.
This is thrilling to listen to, with
the playing having a sense of liquidity
and ease, and the string rhythmic accents
urging the listener to dance along.
The piano here comes into its own, with
impeccable evenness and clarity.
The most recent piece,
Lucid Intervals was written for
Currie and Håkan Hardenberger
for the Verbier Festival in 2006. A
tripartite work, the opening movement
features fragmented melodies and interrupted
lines. Using just marimba, vibraphone
and crotales from the available array
of percussion, the sound is unified
and both percussion and trumpet are
deployed both melodically and to maintain
the rhythmic flow. After a slow, melodic
opening, the second part of the second
movement [1:43] is reminiscent of Copland
or Stravinsky. There is a strong rhythmic
energy, perhaps as one would expect
of a percussion CD. Part three starts
even more slowly, with a beautiful trumpet
lines against gentle crotales. Hardenberger’s
reputation is such that one expects
greatness, and he has not let us down
here. His sound is rich, emotive and
highly satisfying to listen to. The
third movement of this piece is perhaps
one of the most beautifully played trumpet
lines I have ever heard.
Sense and Innocence
inhabits a different world of sound.
Using percussion and sampled percussion,
for me, this is the highlight of the
disc. The ethereal sounds of the opening
are captivating and take on a new dimension.
The music bursts into repeated riffs
with a beat which is reminiscent of
pop music and once again encourages
dancing. The more upbeat sections are
juxtaposed against bowed cymbals and
electronically treated sounds, moving
without warning from light into darkness.
The return to the opening mood is all
the more spooky, as a result of having
interrupted the flow of the previous
material. The performance is again flawless,
to the extent that one is hardly aware
of the performance, but instead drawn
towards the musical world which it presents.
At times, it is impossible to tell what
is electronic and what is live; the
sounds merge to form a unified whole.
There is tremendous variety within this
ten minute work, and I long to hear
it in live performance. This is excellent
music, superbly played.
The percussion duo,
Shapeshifter is performed here
with Sam Walton. With an underlying
energy that seems characteristic of
Maric’s work, the piece has an obvious
jazz influence. The piece moves through
a number of different sections, each
maintaining the sense of journey that
was so apparent at the start of this
CD. The opening of each section is like
going through a door into another room
of a very large house; everything is
different and yet follows on from the
previous material. The sense of ensemble
here is impeccable, with both players
The title track of
the CD, Borrowed Time is another
fascinating example of Maric’s work,
with the somewhat unusual pairing of
percussion and organ. Recorded at Westminster
Abbey, the different acoustic gives
a sense of space to this piece compared
to the others on the disc, but it has
been carefully balanced and the change
is a welcome addition to the recording.
The marimba dominates, with the organ’s
bass notes giving support for the moving
percussion above it. The organ part
takes on a mostly accompanying role,
emerging from the texture and then disappearing
again to allow the percussion to take
center-stage. It is a relationship that
is highly effective and enchanting.
first commissioned piece in this set
is Trilogy, written in 2000 for
Currie’s recital engagements in Japan
and the USA. As the title suggests,
the work has three movements, with a
total duration of approximately 13 minutes.
The work combines a vast array of live
instruments with electronics. The first
movement has a very distinct groove,
with strong off-beat accents and imaginative
use of the instrumental resources. The
calmer central movement has a more exotic
feel, with more unusual sounds entering
the arena through tasteful electronic
treatments. The work ends with a short
but highly energetic third movement,
full of drive and pace.
Currie has helped to
transform the percussion from something
that stays at the back of an orchestra
into an exciting solo display. The array
of sounds available has wide appeal
for both composers and audience alike,
and his work with new repertoire is
to be commended. His playing is not
only technically fluid, but it is also
highly musical, with a natural feel
for phrasing and good communication
with the listener. The result, on this
CD, is a series of contemporary works
which are approachable and engaging,
without being dumbed down in any way.