In Two Minds: Duo Menurida

New album by Australian flautist Laura Chislett and composer Edward Cowie

Despite three decades apart, renowned Australian flautist Laura Chislett and composer Edward Cowie, with their instruments as extensions of thought, craft a rich tapestry of sonic colours and inventive possibilities.

This profound ritual of spontaneous outpourings invites listeners on an immersive journey, experiencing the direct transmission of sensory encounters through eight tracks that shape the discovered music of the moment.

The album, a testament to their enduring creative connection, offers a unique fusion of musical expression and the natural world, inviting audiences to join in this extraordinary sonic exploration created through skilled and instinctive improvisation.

The creative synergy between Chislett and Cowie, first sparked in 1989 during Cowie’s tenure at The Australian Arts Centre in Townsville, North Queensland, resonates with a unique connection rooted in shared musical sensibilities and a deep appreciation for the natural world.

Fast forward to 2022, when Laura travelled to England for a transformative recording project with Cowie, unaware that it would coincide with his decision to return to Australia. Motivated by a desire for a final adventure in the expansive Australian landscape, 80-year-old Edward Cowie embraced the opportunity to explore untapped musical potential since his departure in 1995.

The resulting album, a captivating collection of improvisations, bears witness to the duo’s shared experiences and draws inspiration from both the Australian and British landscapes.

The improvisations pay homage to the sonic narratives of birds, land, sea, and sky, interwoven with influences from revered visual artists like Kandinsky, Rothko, Pollock, and Heather Cowie, whose artwork is on the cover.

Edward Cowie

Edward Cowie, hailed as a leading composer inspired by nature, debuted his iconic Leviathan with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1975, marking the start of his acclaimed career. His compositions, influenced by his rural upbringing and studies in physics and painting, fuse science, art, and music. Cowie’s works, such as Gesangbuch and Symphonies of Rain, Steam and Speed, reflect his deep connection to the natural world. Through collaborations with physicists and field studies, he translates scientific concepts into music, exemplified by pieces like Rutherford’s Lights and Particle Partita.

As the first Granada Composer/Conductor with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Cowie’s influence extended globally, with conducting engagements and notable compositions. Recognized for his contributions, he received prestigious awards and honors, including a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship. Now based in Australia with his wife, Heather Cowie, he continues his exploration of nature through music and art.

Laura Chislett

Laura Chislett is renowned for her dynamic interpretations of extraordinary music.

“For reasons and repertoire and performance there is nothing like this anywhere” (Fanfare)

“Laura performed with such commitment and mastery that some of the audience could never be certain if it was the works themselves or her performance that left such a profound impression “ (Roger Woodward in ‘Beyond Black and White’)

“This is a fascinating release… the rewards are great indeed.” (Fanfare) “bravura impressionante” (La Nazione)

Critics have hailed her performances as unparalleled, with some attributing her profound impact to both the works themselves and her masterful execution.

Departing from the conventional trajectory, she heeded the counsel of acclaimed musicologist Richard Toop to pursue studies in Europe, leading to transformative encounters with leading figures in modern music.

Embracing a “portfolio” career ethos, she champions meaningful music performance and fosters connections with wider audiences through education. With a diverse repertoire spanning Bach to Ferneyhough, her solo and ensemble recordings are available across various platforms.

Exploring the flute’s capabilities over the years, she has delved into techniques like simultaneous singing and playing, inflected air sounds, and expressive vibrato, often drawing inspiration from nature. Her deep reverence for the natural world stems from childhood memories of bird songs in Sydney. Collaborating closely with composers and inspiring works dedicated to her, her journey continues to enrich the musical landscape.


Read the latest review by John France at MusicWeb International

Sensuous, inventive and often fantastic improvisations

John France