CAN Percussion Trio


The Coach House, Dublin Castle

This was the first public appearance of the CAN Percussion Trio, and the start of a four-concert Music Network tour postponed from February when one of the players had an injured hand.

If you were trying to market the relatively little-known world of percussion to a new public, you would seize on this trio for the boxes it ticks. There is a mix of youth and experience: two emerging players in their twenties in Alex Petcu and Chris Stynes, and Noel Eccles, the seasoned professional. There is obvious chemistry and humour, and a visible joy in what they do.

Their programme explores a wide range, emphasises the visual, and – while avoiding music of any great depth – includes pieces that dazzle and excite, that really hit you at a visceral level, and that would make newcomers want to hear more.

The Trio per uno by Serbian Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic (born 1962) puts all three performers around a single large-head drum and features a gradual, mad-sounding accelerando and crescendo coloured by sporadic tinny outbursts on Chinese opera gongs.

The close intimacy of sharing the one instrument sharply contrasted with the spatial luxury of pieces such as Summon the Spirits by the Australian teacher Kevin Tuck, and Marimba Spiritual by Minoru Miki (1930-2011), which featured the players moving among and around all the many instruments in their very large array.

Intimacy then returned as all instruments were eschewed and the trio sat at a single table and with their hands used slaps, taps, flicks, and rubs in Table Music by the Belgian film-maker Thierry de May (born 1956).

None of this music required any figuring out, and it all had energy and character and immediate appeal. Alongside pieces by other big names – for example, Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood and an excellent re-imagining for percussion of the opening from Philip Glass’s Glassworks – there was the premiere of The Tiger’s Grave by the young Irish composer Patrick Stephen O’Connor.

Hopefully some day they will give us the likes of Bartók’s sonata for two pianos and percussion. But for now, tour this one again, only this time everywhere and in town halls and community centres.

CAN Percussion Trio play Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim tonight and Castlebar, Co Mayo tomorrow