Claire Edwardes, solo percussion
Classical, New Music
Tall Poppies Records TP223
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

Claire Edwardes has had a stellar career as a solo percussionist of new classical music. This, her third solo CD release with Tall Poppies Records, presents repertoire for small collections of percussion instruments that will conveniently all “fit into a car”. Edwardes considers that when composers write for a solo percussionist and limit the number of instruments, their efforts are stronger and more compositionally focused. This collection of recordings, including several works written specially for the project, is a tour de force of new music percussion performance interpretation. The selection of works is impressive and the execution flawless.

The opening tracks, Rebonds A and Rebonds B (1987-89) by Iannis Xenakis, are groove-based pieces, scored for instruments such as bongos, congas and woodblocks. The composition strategy is effectively based on the gradual development of repetitive musical ideas.

Claire Edwardes

Claire Edwardes

Matthew Slomowitz’ Hi Hat and Me, written specially for this recording project, utilises only the standard drum-kit apparatus of the hi hat. Slomowitz writes effectively for this instrument but also asked the percussionist to vocalise while playing. The vocal execution is precise but could be more theatrically expressive.

Experimentalist composer/performer Eric Griswold’s short Chooks is an appealing exercise in rhythmic counterpoint on toy piano. By contrast Lawrence Crane’s Solo for Claire Edwardes is an exercise in combining atmospheric pre-recorded electronic ideas with live tuned-percussion material using minimalistic chordal textures. Javier Alvaraz’ texturally complex Temazcal (1984) takes the electronic pre-recorded and processed recorded elements to a higher level.

Stuart Greenbaum’s Clockwork Lemon (2007) represents a return to the album’s idea of composing using a limited sonic palette, in this case only snare drum and high hat. The work effectively combines new music and jazz groove ideas.

A toy piano features again in Stockhausen’s “Aquarius” movement from Tierkreis (1975). The companion movement, “Taurus”, employs similar textures using a music box, toy glockenspiel and bowed crotales.

Claire Edwardes

Claire Edwardes

Balancing the earlier Hi Hat and Me, Frederick Rzewski’s To the Earth combines a minimalistic instrumental texture with a poetic text performed by Edwardes. The final track Bongo-O also projects vocal utterances into a virtuoso bongo performance.

Although one is performed by one percussionist, it has a surprisingly large range of engaging sounds and textures. Highly recommended!


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