Between the Melbourne lockdowns of 2020, Inventi Ensemble were hard at work recording their second and third albums over three days, producing a vibrant and innovative collection of musical masterpieces.
Women of the Earth
Their new album, Women of the Earth, is a celebration of contemporary female Australian composers, featuring commissioned works by Melody Eötvös and Caerwen Martin. The album showcases the unique compositional style of both composers, and their remarkable propensity for storytelling through music.
‘October in the Chair’ by Eötvös immediately draws listeners in with its relentless pulse and riveting intensity. Based on Neil Gaiman’s namesake short story, the work features a skilful synthesis of woodwind and string timbres, textural contrasts and colourful harmonies that carry the listener through the narrative journey. This is followed by ‘Women of the Earth’ for mixed quintet by Martin, inspired by the stained glass windows of St John’s Anglican Church in Flinders, Victoria. Inventi Ensemble’s sensitive performance of the work evokes a sense of depth and reflection throughout this work, from the opening woodwind solo to the textural and expressive development with layers of sustained tones and mesmerising string harmonics.
Martin follows with another mixed quintet work, ‘The Book Beneath My Bed’, which is based on various categories of books in the composer’s own library, as well as the ensemble members’ literary collections. This work demonstrates the versatility of Martin’s compositional style and Inventi’s artistic prowess, with a more playful musical style incorporating string pizzicato, sustained bowings and extended techniques.
The album ends with ‘Street of the Four Winds’, composed for touring aged care facilities. This chamber work by Eötvös captures the romance and monologue of the character in Robert W. Chamber’s short story of the same name. Various melodies and dialogues between the instruments feature in the foreground over incessant ensemble textures, exhibiting the cohesive virtuosity of the ensemble.
Glynn Davies’ arrangement of Peer Gynt for flute, oboe, violin, viola and cello provides a refreshing take on the well-known orchestral suites by Edvard Grieg, which were originally composed for Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play. Although the instrumentation of this arrangement is for a smaller ensemble than the original, Inventi presents a compelling and more intimate experience of the suites. Each work in the album is introduced by the eloquent and humorous narration of Ed Ayres, providing a highly accessible adaptation of the music for all listeners.
Opening with the dramatic ‘Abduction of the Bride’, it features Grieg classics such as ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’, and ‘Morning Mood’, which is full of opulent harmonies and elegantly-shaped melodies alternating between the woodwind and strings. Inventi adeptly voice the lavish contrapuntal harmonies in the solemn ‘Death of Ase’, while their meticulous instrumental collaboration skills are also exhibited in the sultry and exotic ‘Anitra’s Dance’. Ascending chromatics, registral and dynamic contrasts set to a fast tempo carry listeners on Peer Gynt’s tumultuous journey home, concluding with the beautiful melody of ‘Solveg’s Song’.
The versatile artistry of Inventi Ensemble is demonstrated in each of the contrasting movements, which are all performed with expressive nuance and technical command to effectively evoke the story behind the music.
Buy the CD’s here