Musgrave, Mcpherson, Mcguire, Bates

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COMPOSERS: Bates,Mcguire,Mcpherson,Musgrave
LABELS: Metier
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.

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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