Adams • Fitkin • Pärt • Nyman • Bowie • Eno

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Adams,Bowie & Eno,Fitkin,Nyman,Part
LABELS: Black Box
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Alone… Again Or at Last
WORKS: Works by Adams, Fitkin, Pärt, Nyman, Bowie & Eno
PERFORMER: Simon Haram (saxophones, electronic wind instrument, synths), Liz Burley (piano, Fender Rhodes); Michael Nyman Band
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1018

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I am not the saxophone's most ardent fan, nor a keen advocate of the minimalist composers whose work features on this release. But casting aside instincts I tried treating it as Muzak, and, would you know, rather enjoyed the half-sensation of its smoothly engineered mellow sounds. The saxophonist Simon Haram, never severely taxed, makes a pleasantly unagressive noise. Each work here has previously enjoyed another, usually vocal, existence. Two John Adams pieces (the latter gives the album its title) come from his I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, and one from his opera Nixon in CHina. Two by Michael Nyman have been lifted from The Diary of Anne Frank. Fitkin's pieces are, of course, self contained, while David Bowie's and Brian Eno's Warsawa was originally a laid-back instrumental track from the Seventies album Low. Throughout, Harman's sax is set against an electronic-sounding background – the accoustic instruments have been miked and re-balanced, and synthesizers play a prominent role. The flavour of the whole is perhaps best epitomised by the vibraphone broken chords of Arvo Part's Spiegel im Spiegel, which sound so antiseptic and banal in this context that I found myself half expecting to hear an airport announcement before opening my eyes and finding myself, complimentary glass of wine at side, in the Club lounge. Hard to rate such a product, hence the average scores.

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Stephen Pettitt