Earthtones Trio / Christmas Single
Fancy a dash of sophistication with your easy listening? Something warm and Christmassy to cosy up to after a traumatic year? Maybe it’s time to discover the golden strains of the Earthtones Trio.
They are familiar faces to Scots classical music audiences – principle flautist Katherine Bryan and associate principal cellist Betsy Taylor from the RSNO with cross-genre pianist and composer Euan Stevenson – and they’ve just released a couple of red-hot Christmas crackers as a double A-side single.
The melodies are perennial favourites, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and the normally syrupy O Holy Night. But it’s Stevenson’s classy arrangements that add gilded veneer to what would otherwise constitute routine seasonal fare. Void of sentimentality, energised by the piano’s liquid moto perpetuo and the silken interplay of flute and cello, they elicit irrepressible charm with ne’er a cliched moment.
While Stevenson’s jazz inclinations are most palpable in God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, they are neither out of place nor overstated. The rippling piano opening, spiced with pseudo-impressionist harmonies, its rhythmic stresses dreamily out of kilter with the first glimpse of the tune on flute, are just a gateway to a track that radiates autumnal joy. Echoes of Chick Corea inform soft multicoloured harmonies. The cello’s mellowest range is predominant, the flute taking flight with short improvisational bursts. The emphasis is on cool.
If this is the Yuletide claret, O Holy Night is the mulled wine. Sleepier arpeggios from Stevenson set a moody tenor for Taylor’s expansive, rich-roasted unfolding of the theme. With Bryan’s entry – a magical, near-imperceptible presence – comes a blossoming dialogue between the two that is genuinely moving. Tears will be shed, for all the right reasons..
Full information on how to purchase or stream Earthtones’ Christmas single is at www.earthtonestrio.com