Melba Recordings

"... a label of fragrant distinction"

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Benaud Trio

Expedition Audio (US)
Philip Ballyk

I cannot resist listening to a CD that advertises three world premières. On this recording, the Benaud Trio performs four works for piano trio, all of which were written by composers from Australia, the home country of both the Benaud Trio and the Melba label. If you’re looking for contemporary chamber music, you’ve come to the right place. Ross Edwards, Paul Stanhope, Matthew Hindson and Nicholas Buc wrote the works recorded here in 1998, 2007 and 2010. And if you haven’t come here for such music, I encourage you to stay, read and listen a while, because I’m sure you’ll enjoy what’s in store.

The works utilize a variety of expressive instrumental devices. Though it is difficult to draw similarities between them, much of the music dialogues overtly tonal material and more jagged, spiky textures. Much of the tonal material is sorrowful and reflective, never quite giving in to respectful absolution and instead turning inward and further downward toward a suspended melancholic state. At times these passages begin to simmer and then boil with the rhythmic activity of ostinatos, only to cool once again and return to a less energetic but somehow more luminous style.

If I had to pick a favorite work, it would be the fourth: Nichlas Bue’s Trailer Music. Commissioned by the Benaud Trio, its inspiration draws from the pre-film advertisements regularly seen in cinemas and is scored to lead its audience through a full spectrum of emotions. Not only are these emotions expressed to great effect, they are streamlined seamlessly - unlike the segmented trailers on which the work is based - to produce a captivating and diverse aural journey.

To conclude, the Benaud Trio gives passionate performances of all four works and I appreciate their collaboration with Melba to bring these stunning contemporary works to the wider audience they deserve. Highly recommended.