This release by the Marsyas Trio commemorates the 100th anniversary of woman suffrage in Britain in 1918 and marks the considerable progress made by women composers since then, even as obstacles remain. One work comes from the earlier era, and it is the only American work on the program: the little-played and delightful Pastorale for flute, cello, and piano, Op. 90, and The Water Sprites of Amy Beach. The preceding three works were all commissioned by the performers, and they are a varied lot indeed. The strongest is Laura Bowler's Salutem (2014), which lives up to it ambitious movement titles: "Stone Age," "Bronze Age," "The Middle Ages," "Industrial Revolution," and "Modern Age." One hesitates to give away the surprises, but you could sample the middle movement, "The Middle Ages," or try Judith Weir's Several Concertos, with their unusual treatments of the trio. Thea Musgrave's Canta, Canta! is an arrangement of a clarinet work, the only arrangement on the program, but given Musgrave's status as an inspiration to so many younger composers, her presence is appropriate. The difference in spelling between Hilary Tann's In the Theater of Air and that of the album title is not a typo, but results from Tann's use of the original American spelling in the work's unique inspiration, a set of poems about birds by the writer Mary Oliver. (The birds provide inspiration not with their songs, but, more unusually, with their motions in flight.) An attractive, accessible set of contemporary chamber works.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|In the Theater of Air|