by Steve Moffatt
Queensland’s all-woman Muses Trio – violinist Christa Powell, pianist Therese Milanovic and cellist Louise King – has been promoting female composers in a series of chamber concerts for four years and now they have released their self-published debut album.
Taking its title from Elena Kats-Chernin’s relatively well-known The Spirit and the Maiden , it includes three world premiere recordings: Melburnian Kate Neal’s piano solo Song For Comb Man ; Queensland jazz lecturer Louise Denson’s engaging Two Boleros and, also from Queensland, Cecile Elton’s Insomnio de la Cuidad (Tango for a Sleepless City) which sits nicely alongside the Boleros, starting lazily until the restlessness begins. Three pieces for cello and piano by Nadia Boulanger take us to another time and place, as does the Czech Víteˇzslava Kaprálová’s Elegy for violin and piano from the 1930s.
Kats-Chernin’s trio, based on a legend about a young woman who is captured by a ghost that lives in a well, is the most substantial work and makes a good opener with its exciting, driving rhythms. English composer and mezzo-soprano Judith Bingham’s Chapman’s Pool is a four-part work which starts and ends sombrely. Brooklyn-born Jennifer Higdon’s contrasting Pale Yellow/Fiery Red closes the disc strongly, although you can download Amy Beach’s Romance for violin and piano as a bonus track.