Timothy Kain and Guitar Trek have been an integral part of the Australian musical landscape for more than 30 years now, but it seems like this new CD might just be their crown jewel of releases. Performing using their unique Graham Caldersmith-designed guitar family (bass, baritone, and treble instruments in addition to the normal guitar), this is a terrific disc. Alongside Kain’s superb recent solo Naxos disc, it’s hard to imagine a better summary of Australian guitar music.
The disc opens with Nigel Westlake’s inventive Six Fish. Originally written for Saffire, the work uses the colourful combination of two standard classicals, a resonator guitar, and a 12-string guitar. This combination of different types of guitars is a scintillating combination that I’d love to see more composers investigate. Guitar Trek’s performance of this piece is absolutely glowing, and definitely one for a headphone listen.
A solid proportion of the disc is dedicated to the music of Phillip Houghton, who sadly passed away in 2017. Of the set of four pieces recorded here, Opals is probably the most well-known, although I have to admit I have a soft spot for the earlier News from Nowhere. Guitar Trek previously recorded it in the mid-‘90s, but this new recording brings a new clarity to the piece. The other two pieces (the early Nocturne and the aurally brain-bending Wave Radiance) both receive similarly excellent performances.
Richard Charlton and Elena Kats-Chernin are represented by Five Tails in Cold Blood and Bleached Memories, respectively. These are played sensitively, with impressively tight ensemble performances.
A wonderful CD that every admirer of Australian music should have in their collection.
Music by: Nigel Westlake, Phillip Houghton, Richard Charlton
Performers: Guitar Trek
Label: Naxos 8579060