Music for Three Rivers presents four improvisations (totaling 45 minutes) from British pianist Chris Burn's performance at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in May 1996, as well as five studio recordings from February 1997 and two pieces in concert at Conway Hall in London, May 1995. The previous solo piano CD released by the Victo label was by another British musician, Keith Tippett -- and Burn and Tippett are two opposite musicians, really. In comparison to the dramatic and intense Mujician pianist, Burn sounds a little dry and uninvolved. If his playing is not downright cold, it surely remains at a more cerebral than emotional level. The album starts with two long-range improvisations (19 and 18 minutes respectively). They sustain the listener's interest through the rich creativity and sound palette, as the pianist moves objects around the instrument's insides. The title track is one of the improviser's best recorded efforts, a captivating journey inside the piano, full of surprising sounds. Next there is a set of shorter pieces (one to six minutes) more closely exploring specific piano preparations. The longer cuts are more engaging, the shorter get a bit clinical, and the three "Meditation Upon Fountain" tracks are simply tiresome with their endlessly repeated tone clusters. It is hard to understand how these and the cinematic "Music for Three Rivers" could have come out of the same hands.
AllMusic Review by François Couture