Claire Edwardes has forged a formidable international career as a virtuoso percussionist. She is also Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring, and both are committed to the performance of ‘music of our time.’ This sixth solo album, Clairaudient, feaures almost entirely 21st-century percussion works: the exception is her arrangement of Steve Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint (1982), reconfigured here for vibraphone and xylophone.
In addition to the obvious pun, this album is named for the ability to hear sounds from the spirit world that are not audible to the human ear. It’s appropriate, as much of this extraordinary recording is quite otherworldly. Since many of the works were written specifically for Edwardes, she was able to work closely with the composers, making the collaborative process that engendered these works even more intimate and personal.
Time Alone, by Damien Ricketson is particularly entrancing, shifting and shimmering through a textural landscape of echoes and overtones. Five works by Australian composer Melody Eötvös utilise electronics, poetry and unusual instrumentation to riveting effect. It’s also immediately apparent from the first bars of Nostalgia by Vincent Ho that this album has been beautifully recorded, the vibraphone’s tones languidly glistening in space.
This thoughtfully conceived collection is expertly performed and brilliantly realised with a subtlety that will repay repeated listenings.