McCabe had a fascination for deserts - whether of sand or ice, heat or cold - that began in childhood: as he later noted, "sooner or later it was bound to come out in the music". In the early 1980s he embarked on a series of works for different types of ensemble inspired by desert environments. The third in this series, Desert III: Landscape, is scored for piano trio and "stems as much from the strength and complexity of the Australian desert fringe landscape as it does from the sense of a vast emptiness which is the impulse behind the beginning of the work". With sudden changes of mood, and rhythms suggested by aboriginal didgeridoo music, McCabe conjures an atmosphere of complex shifting colours within an unrelenting, essentially static vastness. The work is cast in five, through-composed sections, Lento - Vivo - Lento - Deciso Allegro Vivace - Maestoso; the last regathering opening threads.
All purchases of the McCabe album Silver Nocturnes will include a free download code for this track in the accompanying booklet.
The Australian Piano Trio
Commissioned by Earle Page College and the New England Ensemble, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales.
Premiere performance, June 1982.
With thanks to Earle Page College and the New England Ensemble for letting their recording (originally released on LP Pagecall S-1, YPRX 2247) be transferred from vinyl and remastered by NMC Recordings for download.
Catalogue number: NMC DL3033
Release Date: 17 November 2017