ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Feasibility Studies
WORKS: Voices from the Ancient World; Three Minute Philosophy; Celtic Knotwork; Bird Tableau
PERFORMER: Scottish Flute Trio; Tim Williams (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: MSV CD 92041
Even those of us who spent much of our youth learning the flute repertoire might find the prospect of three of them undiluted a bit too much of a good thing, but this clutch of commissions for the Scottish Flute Trio spices up what could have been a rather bland sound-world with a percussionist. It is the senior composer here, Thea Musgrave, who exploits the potential of the medium most tellingly; her Voices from the Ancient World is a sequence of six portraits of Greek mythological figures – Eos, Pan, Boreas, Circe, Pandora and Selene – each sharply characterised and matching the intertwining voices of the flutes with both tuned and untuned percussion.
The rest is less compelling. Gordon McPherson’s Three Minute Philosophy is alas almost ten minutes longer than the title implies, unifying the flutes and marimba into a single multiphonic voice, while Edward McGuire’s Celtic Knotwork is pithier and vaguely folksy, but never truly memorable. Django Bates’s Bird Tableau is intended as ‘a day in the life of a group of birds’ but less Messiaen than Charlie Parker, and about twice as long as it needs to be. Andrew Clements