The latest release by acclaimed Australian composer Stuart Greenbaum is fascinating, creative and accessible. The first and titular track refers to the curious fact that the lifespan of many living creatures lasts for about 800 million heartbeats. The second, Falling by Degrees is about gravity and how it affects various objects from meteors to apples as well as more figurative senses of falling such as nightfall and falling stock markets. This CD reveals Greenbaum’s extraordinary talent as a composer who synthesizes a fountain of innovative ideas that intrigue and captivate the listener. He creates a truly Australian sound using an eclectic fusion of influences from jazz and pop to baroque.
Greenbaum, the head of composition at the University of Melbourne, collaborates with NZTrio whose interpretation of these modern Australian pieces is faultless and effective. The dynamic group of young performers is vital and pioneering, combining old and new music and working with local and international artists across diverse genres. 800 Million Heartbeats is an important addition to Australian music and a fresh and essential album for lovers of fine music. The final track is fittingly titled Book of Departures and Greenbaum notes that “Departure’ is an interesting word. It can denote sadness and nostalgia – but it can equally refer to the outset of exciting new journeys, and in my mind this piece attempts to address both meanings.
Claire Hu – Fine Music Magazine (Sydney), November 2013