The Classics: July 6

Lightbox (new works). New Zealand Trio. Rattle CD

This is a fascinating voyage into modernism with new music by New Zealand composers, mostly commissioned by the group: Justine Cormack (violin), Ashley Brown (cello) and Sarah Watkins (piano).

The opening item Lightbox, a 13-minute piece by Karlo Margetic, sets the style for the whole album, illustrated on the cover by abstract painting English Electric by Jim Speers, a fine example of abstract art from the collection of the Wallace Arts Trust that co-sponsors the disc.

The typography of the accompanying booklet reflects this theme cleverly throughout.

Other composers include Chris Gandall (Triaglio) and Samuel Holloway (Stapes), who have already become firm favourites of the group's repertoire. Works were commissioned from Margetic, Gao Ping (Su Kie Si Ti), Rachel Clement (Shifting States), Alex Taylor (Burlesques mecaniques), and Claire Cowan (Subtle Dances).

The set provides some 75 minutes of interest and enjoyment to a listener who likes to hear refreshing piano trio music splashed with colour, mostly weird or subtle rather than bold but full of surprises.

Sounds you have never heard before may come from the three instruments in exploratory but respectful ways.

Most of the works are not too repetitive and divided into several small sections so keep their freshness.

They must be difficult but great fun for the trio to play.

The 10 brief parts to Taylor's Burlesques aptly have names like ''a spanner'', ''tumbledry'', ''tic'', ''anglegrinder'' and ''chain'' introducing quite a humorous element. But all the compositions are home-grown gems the trio loves to perform.

This shows a diversity in styles and proves the strength of New Zealand composition.

Highlight: Enjoyable sounds in new music.

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