Tall Poppies


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Miniatures for Marimba
Claire Edwardes - marimba

$23   (Australian dollars)


buy at: AMC - Buywell - iTunes

Flash is Claire’s 2nd recording for Tall Poppies - a charming compilation of miniatures for the marimba. Inspired by her formative musical years as a pianist and her two young daughters, Claire has chosen a program of new and transcribed gems for the mellow sonorities of the grand five octave marimba. The Australian works have, in the most part, been written especially for the project, and these sit cheek-by-jowl with transcriptions of well-known children’s piano pieces by Bach, Bartók, Corea, Kabalevsky, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. New works for the marimba have been written by Claire’s long-term friends and collaborators Elena Kats-Chernin, Stuart Greenbaum, Andrea Keller, Daniel Rojas and Matthew Hindson - their works are true gifts to Claire, marimba players of the future and future listeners of this CD.

Bach/HasslerO Sacred Head, Now Wounded
Matthias SchmittSechs Minaturen: no's 2,5,6
BachLute Suite in E minor, BWV 996
Elena Kats-CherninViolet's Etude
Bartókfrom Mikrokosmos:
Bulgarian Rhythm
Stuart GreenbaumApril Revisited
SchumannFrom Album for the Young:
Chorale, Op 68/4
A Little Study, Op 68/14
Mignon, Op 68/5
Andrea KellerPierrot the Clown
Chick Coreafrom Children's Songs: no's 18,1,6
Daniel RojasMirimba
Shostakovichfrom Six Little Pieces & Ballet Suite no 3
La Poupée Mecanique
Lyrical Waltz
Histoire Gaie
Gerard BrophyTrance Ripples
Kabalevskyfrom The First Book for Pianists
An Ancient Dance, op 27/7
A Short Story, op 39/22
A Little Song, op 27/2
Ross EdwardsMarimba Dances (1st movt)
Tchaikovskyfrom Album for the Young, Op 39
Old French Song
Morning Prayer
Matthew HindsonFlash


Claire Edwardes has been a champion of new music, and new Austraian music in particular, for over a decade. So a chance to hear her perform at any time is a treat. This recording seems to be something else, though - a chance to have a more personal insight into what has shaped Edwardes's musical life. In particular, we are introduced to marimba versions of piano works which she learned while studying with her first teacher, Faye Lake.

Among these marimba performances of idiomatic sections of works by J.S. Bach, Schumann. Bartok and others, there are works by seven Australian composers, whose music is served very well by superb playing.

Elena Kats-Chemin's Violet’s Etude is well-placed to be performed after the works of Bach, as it seems to draw on Baroque devices such as cyclic harmonic shifts and even elements of the "Doctrine of Affections" that relate to portraying one emotion or style through most of a work.

Stuart Greenbaum’s April Revisited showcases many of his interests in jazz and pop, in particular with cyclic chord progressions drawn from those sound worlds. However, Greenbaum is able to draw immense warmth from his harmonic palette. His knowledge of the instrument he is writing for is displayed well in this work.

Amanda Keller’s Pierrot the Clown provides a fine contrast to the meditative Schumann which precedes it. It is also the most rhythmically complex work on the CD to this stage, despite the Bartok. The difficulty one has in finding the true "pulse" in this work is a fine way to portray the capricious nature of the clown.

The music of Daniel Rojas is relatively new to me. His work Mirimba follows a work by Chick Corea, and continues Corea's Latin American style. Mirimba has a refreshing, pulsating quality, idiomatic and reminiscent of South American dances - particularly the rumba.

The unbridled rhythmic vitality and virtuosity of Gerard Brophy’s Trance Ripples gets a boost from Edwardes performing it with an anklet rattle attached to her arm. This piece is a little short for my liking. I would have liked to have heard what else could be done with this material.

Ross Edwards’s Marimba Dances continues the feel of other works of his in this series. I first heard this piece, performed rather heavy-handedly, in Buffalo NY in 1989. But this recording has the delicacy of touch and the sensitivity that Edwards’s music needs, as well as the dexterity needed in the tremolos. This is a great performance of what is probably the most Famous of the modern works in the CD.

The title track of the recording by Matthew Hindson, is typical of his high-energy music – intense, fast-paced and vlrtuosic. As usual Claire Edwardes responds to the music’s challenges. The piece rounds off not just a fine and versatile instrument, but one of the great performers that we have in Australia. This recording is for anyone serious about new Australian music.
Houston Dunleavy
Music Forum Summer 2012

Percussionists are a resourceful bunch. Not only must they master an endless battery of instruments (there will always be new objects to hit), they're often required to build their repertoire from scratch. Here Claire Edwardes sets out to expand the range of short pieces available for marimba by arranging various piano miniatures alongside newly-composed Australian works. It's a win-win: Aussies get more exposure and percussionists get a whole lot more music to play.

Edwardes has already proven her entrepreneurship. She started out as a pianist, only switching to percussion at university. She won the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer Award and spent a decade within Europe's new music scene. Since returning home she's co-directed the innovative Ensemble Offspring and premiered more than her share of new works.

This CD lays the old and the new side by side, a rewarding strategy that brings freshness and surprise. It's revealing to hear the snaking counterpoint of JS Bach alongside the bounce of Matthias Schmitt, for instance, or the brittle Russians Shostakovich and Kabalevsky bookending Gerard Brophy's loose energy. Some composers are especially well served by their percussive transformation; I wouldn't have imagined Schumann's rich pianism suiting the marimba but his three children's pieces sound almost newly composed. The local standouts for me include Stuart Greenbaum's breezy vignette, Matthew Hindson's hyperactive title track and the ongoing Latin American flair of Daniel Rojas.

Edwardes colours everything she plays with exuberance, intelligence and sensitivity and offers us here a great percussion primer.
© Julian Day
Limelight November 2011

The marimba plays a familiar (sometimes annoying) part in the soundtrack of our lives because of that ubiquitous mobile phone ringtone.

But there is much more to this hammered instrument as a delightful new release by the Australian classical label Tall Poppies, Flash Marimba Miniatures, featuring Claire Edwardes, clearly shows.

Edwardes, a familiar sight on Sydney stages when called upon by the ACO, Sydney Symphony and Australian World orchestras, is a regular performer with the innovative new music group Ensemble Offspring, but she started her musical life learning piano. All those lessons paid off later when she forsook the 10 fingers needed for the piano for the four hammers she uses on the marimba, which is laid out like a giant keyboard.

This album mixes skilful adaptations of some of those piano pieces she studied in her teens - from Bach to Shostakovich, Bartok to Schumann and Tchaikovsky - with some contemporary Australian pieces, many of them written specifically for Edwardes, and a charming dash of jazz great Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs.

This is a truly entertaining CD and one that will surprise many listeners who may have thought this instrument lacked variety.

© Steve Moffatt
Manly Daily October 2011

Originally a pianist, Claire Edwardes is now one of Australia’s most highly acclaimed percussionists. On her second recording for the Tall Poppies label, Edwardes has compiled a selection of 33 short pieces, some from her days as a fine pianist (Bach, Schumann, Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, Tchaikovsky, Bartok and Corea) and others are by Australian composers, some written especially for her by such composers as Elena Kats-Chernin, Stuart Greenbaum and Daniel Rojas.

JS Bach may seem an odd choice for the marimba, but the Lute Suite in E minor BWV 996 (Prelude, Allemande and Courante) has a clarity and expressive quality that is most appealing. Such choices also remind listeners of the performer’s origins and the way in which her musical understanding has been shaped.

Bartok’s Mikrokosmos (Nos 87, 113, 97), Shostakovich’s 6 Piano Pieces and Ballet Suite No 3 (Lyrical Waltz), Kabalevsky’s First Book for Pianists (3 pieces), Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young Op 39 (4 pieces) and Schumann’s A Little Study, Op 68 No 14 (from Album for the Young) all work very well for this medium. Some are wonderful explorations of rhythm, harmony or sheer delights in melody.

Children’s Songs (Nos 1, 6, 18), originally for piano, by the American jazz pianist Chick Corea are joyful additions exploring the range of the instrument and, in particular, its bass register.

Whilst transcriptions can be effective and very worthy in expanding an instrument’s appeal and breadth of repertoire, it is in the pieces written specially for the marimba that there is most to gain.

German composer Matthias Schmitt in three movements from his Sechs Miniaturen creates a hypnotic state with the use of repetition in the first Adagio, and a melancholic second Adagio which contrasts with a driven Presto.

Elena Kats-Chernin’s Violet’s Etude is energetic and tuneful, whilst Stuart Greenbaum’s April Revisited has a more reflective quality.

Pierrot the Clown by Andrea Keller is quirky and playful. Mirimba (sic) by Daniel Rojas is complex with its syncopated rhythm and references to Latin American music.

Using the upper register, Trance Ripples by Gerard Brophy has been inspired by African rhythms in this piece an individual addition to the performance is Ms Edwardes wearing of an African anklet rattle on her right arm, which adds another timbral effect.

Of course, no marimba performance is really complete without the iconic, joyous and virtuosic Marimba Dances (first movement) by Ross Edwards. This is a mainstay in the repertoire and Ms Edwardes’s performance here is fresh and filled with exuberance.

The high energy, pulsating drive and virtuosic sweeps in Matthew Hindson’s Flash make this a really engaging and standout piece.

Edwardes plays a 5-octave marimba and the disc was recorded at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney. She is a most consummate performer who is able to bring flair and passion to all her performances.
© September 2011 Barry Walmsley

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