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The Future is Female, Vol. 3 – At Play

Sarah Cahill (piano) (FHR)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

The Future is Female –Vol. 3 – At Play
Works by Ali-Zadeh, Bacewicz, Chaminade, Harris Baiocchi, Kendall, Montgeroult, Oliveros, Shirazi & Chen Yi
Sarah Cahill (piano)
First Hand Records FHR 133   79:33 mins


There are several stand-out discoveries on this recording, the welcome third and final volume in Sarah Cahill’s The Future is Femaleseries. For sheer sonic surprise and strength, it’s hard to beat Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s Music for Piano (1989/97). The piano’s sound is haloed with unexpected layers and resonance, created by a glass-bead necklace laid across the piano strings. The result evokes the tar, a traditional stringed instrument from Azerbaijan, Ali-Zadeh’s home country, while her piece brilliantly juxtaposes low, percussive outbursts with contemplative conjurings.

Pauline Oliveros’s spiky Quintuplets Play Pen: Homage to Ruth Crawford is a rare notated piece from the doyenne of contemplative listening, written in 2001 for Cahill. And Hannah Kendall’s beautifully controlled On the Chequer’d Field Array’d takes its cue from chess; the loose theme for the whole album is ‘play’. There’s an intricate complexity to Kendall’s music that fascinates.

Two longer works bookend the recital, which is peppered with short pieces by Chaminade, Bacewicz, Yi and Shirazi. Hélène de Montgeroult’s music has been rediscovered in recent years, with superb recordings by the likes of Clare Hammond and Edna Stern. Cahill finds a real affinity with the French composer’s Classical-Romanticism in the Sonata No. 9 in F sharp minor. Regina Harris Baiocchi’s poetry-and-haiku-inspired Piano Poems of 2020 brings the project up to date and to a close in relaxed fashion.


Rebecca Franks