Melbourne Recital Centre
IT’S not easy to find the chamber for chamber music these days. Intimate musical conversation turns stilted in concert halls. Facial expressions and other vital aspects of communication get lost in the dark and distance.
The Salon at the Recital Centre is a rare experience. It feels and sounds like being shut inside a carved wooden music box. Thoughtfully furnished with cosy tables, it was the perfect spot for a pre-dinner chat between Imogen Manins, Tony Gould and David Jones, if smiles all round were any indication.
The Australian cello-piano-percussion trio casts too wide a net to play chamber music in the classical sense. Manins’ classical bow technique and Gould’s languid jazz feel were occasional signposts but from Jones’s first eccentric note – the long, hypnotic hum of a crystal bell jar he later described as ”a therapist’s bowl” – we were on a trip beyond genre perimeters.
In between spare choices from their latest CD, Under the Tall Trees, selections from modern American composers Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, jazz/world group Oregon and late Australian jazz legend John Sangster were introduced with affection and played with an emphasis on melody and restrained flights of improvisation.
Jones’s bag of tricks injected regular wit into a conversation that was never less than joyous. The range of sounds he extracted from a lone tambourine brought a world of intrigue to Gould’s typically elegant Kashmir Remembered.
The percussionist’s solo piece began with a complete walking tour of the room with Tibetan bowl ringing and included perfectly audible nuances of palm-rubbing and brush-swishing: such are the astounding acoustics of this magical wooden cocoon.
”Vibrational medicine,” he called it. When the box swung open in time for dinner, it sure felt like we’d been dosed with something.