Chris Gendall: Tones (Rattle)

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Suite 4: Bagatelle
Chris Gendall: Tones (Rattle)

Elsewhere never lied to you, we announced ourselves as an “ever-expanding on-line magazine for people curious about new music, different travel, interesting arts and much more”.

This album of contemporary chamber music by the award-winning composer Chris Gendall (a graduate of Victoria Uni, doctoral degree from Cornell, more recently Mozart Fellow at Otago Uni) is firmly for those curious about new music and interesting arts.

And maybe even the “much more”.

These 10 challenging pieces realised by the NZTrio, New Zealand String Quartet, flautist Luca Manghi and pianist Sarah Watkins (who here rejoined the Trio she founded) somewhat amusingly opens with an eight and half minute piece entitled Dulcet Tones played by the NZTrio.

It may not immediately sound like that benign title, but in its pointillistic nature, abrupt shifts of tone – from disturbing to, yes, dulcet – and percussive energy, it really is a work of considerable scope and emotional range.

The four-part Suite (by the New Zealand String Quartet) which follows may be an easier entry point for its off-kilter and sometimes stentorian Gothic romanticism in its opening Canto, the slippery passages of Scorrevole, the broody landscape but atypical Tango (Piazzolla fans need not apply) and the brief, beautiful Bagatelle.

Elsewhere Watkins undertakes the three-part Friends of Distinction, Manghi steps forward for Inward Goes which evokes everything from 19thcentury pastoralism to shakuhachi and the haunting sound of taonga puoro, and the final piece is Watkins again on Going Like Mad which is frequently furious but serious fun and might even appeal to those with a penchant for certain Cecil Taylor solo albums.

Tones – a very apt title – is yet another courageous release from Rattle of an album which, if we might quote Spinal Tap, is being selective about its audience.

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