Miniatures for Marimba
Claire Edwardes - marimba
$23 (Australian dollars)
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|Flash is Claire’s 2nd recording for Tall Poppies - a charming compilation of miniatures for the marimba. Inspired by her formative musical years as a pianist and her two young daughters, Claire has chosen a program of new and transcribed gems for the mellow sonorities of the grand five octave marimba. The Australian works have, in the most part, been written especially for the project, and these sit cheek-by-jowl with transcriptions of well-known children’s piano pieces by Bach, Bartók, Corea, Kabalevsky, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. New works for the marimba have been written by Claire’s long-term friends and collaborators Elena Kats-Chernin, Stuart Greenbaum, Andrea Keller, Daniel Rojas and Matthew Hindson - their works are true gifts to Claire, marimba players of the future and future listeners of this CD.|
|Bach/Hassler||O Sacred Head, Now Wounded|
|Matthias Schmitt||Sechs Minaturen: no's 2,5,6|
|Bach||Lute Suite in E minor, BWV 996|
|Elena Kats-Chernin||Violet's Etude|
|Stuart Greenbaum||April Revisited|
|Schumann||From Album for the Young: |
Chorale, Op 68/4
A Little Study, Op 68/14
Mignon, Op 68/5
|Andrea Keller||Pierrot the Clown|
|Chick Corea||from Children's Songs: no's 18,1,6|
|Shostakovich||from Six Little Pieces & Ballet Suite no 3|
La Poupée Mecanique
|Gerard Brophy||Trance Ripples|
|Kabalevsky||from The First Book for Pianists|
An Ancient Dance, op 27/7
A Short Story, op 39/22
A Little Song, op 27/2
|Ross Edwards||Marimba Dances (1st movt)|
|Tchaikovsky||from Album for the Young, Op 39|
Old French Song
|Percussionists are a resourceful bunch. Not only must they master an endless battery of instruments (there will always be new objects to hit), they're often required to build their repertoire from scratch. Here Claire Edwardes sets out to expand the range of short pieces available for marimba by arranging various piano miniatures alongside newly-composed Australian works. It's a win-win: Aussies get more exposure and percussionists get a whole lot more music to play. |
Edwardes has already proven her entrepreneurship. She started out as a pianist, only switching to percussion at university. She won the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer Award and spent a decade within Europe's new music scene. Since returning home she's co-directed the innovative Ensemble Offspring and premiered more than her share of new works.
This CD lays the old and the new side by side, a rewarding strategy that brings freshness and surprise. It's revealing to hear the snaking counterpoint of JS Bach alongside the bounce of Matthias Schmitt, for instance, or the brittle Russians Shostakovich and Kabalevsky bookending Gerard Brophy's loose energy. Some composers are especially well served by their percussive transformation; I wouldn't have imagined Schumann's rich pianism suiting the marimba but his three children's pieces sound almost newly composed. The local standouts for me include Stuart Greenbaum's breezy vignette, Matthew Hindson's hyperactive title track and the ongoing Latin American flair of Daniel Rojas.
Edwardes colours everything she plays with exuberance, intelligence and sensitivity and offers us here a great percussion primer.
© Julian Day
Limelight November 2011
The marimba plays a familiar (sometimes annoying) part in the soundtrack of our lives because of that ubiquitous mobile phone ringtone.
But there is much more to this hammered instrument as a delightful new release by the Australian classical label Tall Poppies, Flash Marimba Miniatures, featuring Claire Edwardes, clearly shows.
Edwardes, a familiar sight on Sydney stages when called upon by the ACO, Sydney Symphony and Australian World orchestras, is a regular performer with the innovative new music group Ensemble Offspring, but she started her musical life learning piano. All those lessons paid off later when she forsook the 10 fingers needed for the piano for the four hammers she uses on the marimba, which is laid out like a giant keyboard.
This album mixes skilful adaptations of some of those piano pieces she studied in her teens - from Bach to Shostakovich, Bartok to Schumann and Tchaikovsky - with some contemporary Australian pieces, many of them written specifically for Edwardes, and a charming dash of jazz great Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs.
This is a truly entertaining CD and one that will surprise many listeners who may have thought this instrument lacked variety.
© Steve Moffatt
Manly Daily October 2011
Originally a pianist, Claire Edwardes is now one of Australia’s most highly acclaimed percussionists. On her second recording for the Tall Poppies label, Edwardes has compiled a selection of 33 short pieces, some from her days as a fine pianist (Bach, Schumann, Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, Tchaikovsky, Bartok and Corea) and others are by Australian composers, some written especially for her by such composers as Elena Kats-Chernin, Stuart Greenbaum and Daniel Rojas.
JS Bach may seem an odd choice for the marimba, but the Lute Suite in E minor BWV 996 (Prelude, Allemande and Courante) has a clarity and expressive quality that is most appealing. Such choices also remind listeners of the performer’s origins and the way in which her musical understanding has been shaped.
Bartok’s Mikrokosmos (Nos 87, 113, 97), Shostakovich’s 6 Piano Pieces and Ballet Suite No 3 (Lyrical Waltz), Kabalevsky’s First Book for Pianists (3 pieces), Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young Op 39 (4 pieces) and Schumann’s A Little Study, Op 68 No 14 (from Album for the Young) all work very well for this medium. Some are wonderful explorations of rhythm, harmony or sheer delights in melody.
Children’s Songs (Nos 1, 6, 18), originally for piano, by the American jazz pianist Chick Corea are joyful additions exploring the range of the instrument and, in particular, its bass register.
Whilst transcriptions can be effective and very worthy in expanding an instrument’s appeal and breadth of repertoire, it is in the pieces written specially for the marimba that there is most to gain.
German composer Matthias Schmitt in three movements from his Sechs Miniaturen creates a hypnotic state with the use of repetition in the first Adagio, and a melancholic second Adagio which contrasts with a driven Presto.
Elena Kats-Chernin’s Violet’s Etude is energetic and tuneful, whilst Stuart Greenbaum’s April Revisited has a more reflective quality.
Pierrot the Clown by Andrea Keller is quirky and playful. Mirimba (sic) by Daniel Rojas is complex with its syncopated rhythm and references to Latin American music.
Using the upper register, Trance Ripples by Gerard Brophy has been inspired by African rhythms in this piece an individual addition to the performance is Ms Edwardes wearing of an African anklet rattle on her right arm, which adds another timbral effect.
Of course, no marimba performance is really complete without the iconic, joyous and virtuosic Marimba Dances (first movement) by Ross Edwards. This is a mainstay in the repertoire and Ms Edwardes’s performance here is fresh and filled with exuberance.
The high energy, pulsating drive and virtuosic sweeps in Matthew Hindson’s Flash make this a really engaging and standout piece.
Edwardes plays a 5-octave marimba and the disc was recorded at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney. She is a most consummate performer who is able to bring flair and passion to all her performances.
© September 2011 Barry Walmsley
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