The CD Midnight Songs by the Melbourne group Three is a wonderful introduction to repertoire that is evolving especially for this ensemble and it should have wide appeal amongst the concertgoers of Australia and overseas. Having heard the group in Sydney several years back I knew of their brilliant technical skills and high musicianship. Being able to listen to this recording in the quietness of one’s home brings additional layers of satisfaction.
First up is Andrew Batterham’s Organica. I find the opening with its driving rhythms and colourful overlays most attractive. Next is PIT_T by Christian O’Brien, a jazz driven work that never strays too far from a desire to please. Both these works fit the traditional role of the overture in the old-fashioned concert program.
At over 26 minutes the longest work on the CD is Katy Abbott’s Midnight Songs. Don Immel, trombone, displays the sweetest tone to draw the listener into a place where cares seem to disappear. Throughout this work Ken Murray’s guitar playing creates a foundation on which extended melodies are able to float along seemingly forever. Here and on other tracks trumpeter Joel Brennan has a beautiful and focussed tone that suits the diverse styles of the compositions on this CD.
Showing surprising freshness is the 100 year old Random Round by Percy Grainger with its Ravel like moments. Brennan’s use of mutes takes the listener straight to the musical world of George Gershwin. This is a delightful interpretation/working of this innovative composition by Grainger. Due to the openness of the scoring and instrument selection the performers bring to each performance a new approach and Murray, Immel and Brennan are so convincing that one expects this would have made Grainger smile. It makes me smile each time I listen. Loads of fun.
The encore style Torque by the group’s own guitarist, Ken Murray, is a perfect vehicle for fun riffs from the performers.
With a clear and upfront sound this CD is another feather in the cap of Tall Poppies, Australia’s most important new music label. Although THREE present differing styles of music on this recording the unifying factor is the excellence of the performances. Lucky composers.