(The Age)

Horsely & Williams Duo Review

(Articles & Program Notes)
Published – 17.11.2019
(Writing)

A STORYTELLING ★★★★½
Local Heroes: Horsley & Williams Duo
Melbourne Recital Centre, October 29


The most delightful thing about this concert was how absolutely transporting it was. Leave your eyes open and you’re in the comfortable confines of the Primrose Potter Salon; close them and you’re far away, perhaps somewhere colder, somewhere more Celtic but with an unexpected combination of instruments.

“We’re becoming a band of instruments people don’t like,” Ryan Williams quipped. “We have the banjo, the recorder, the bagpipes (Irish uilleann pipes) – we’re just missing the accordion!”

Yet the songwriting, the virtuosic performance and the storytelling were all too good to let a distaste for the recorder turn you off. The instrumental selection also featured tin whistle, guitar, ukulele, cello, electric bass and voice.

Joining Williams and duo partner Matthew Horsley were award-winning jazz bassist Claire Cross and Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist and singer Lucy Wise. An unlikely team, perhaps, but the ragtag quartet presented an exceptionally polished program of new and traditional works, demonstrating the gold that can often result from unexpected collaborations.

The repertoire, which sat stylistically somewhere between contemporary art music, traditional Celtic folk song and languid singer-songwriter, featured rearrangements of traditional song scattered among all new music by Cross, Wise and more.

Each member had an opportunity to speak through their own musical contributions, which created a sense of community and intimacy in a place where other ensembles often choose to hold their audience at a distance.

The laughing, chatting and surprising banjo solos all combined to form the perfect way to lose an hour. If this quartet returns, run, don’t walk, to buy a ticket.

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