LABELS: Cala The Edge
WORKS: Saxophone Quartet; Cantilena; Light and Shadow; Shepherd’s Hey; New York Counterpoint; Music for Saxophones; Chorale Prelude and Fugue
PERFORMER: Raschèr Saxophone Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CACD 77003 DDD
This group is unique in that it claims to use ‘authentic’ saxophones which have ‘the physical dimensions intended by the instrument’s inventor Adolphe Sax’. The result is a sound much softer and rounder than that of modern instruments and an altissimo register which is much easier to utilise. This disc contains a very varied recital intended to show the range of the group’s work.
The opening transcription of a Bach chorale prelude and fugue is very beautifully played and ideally suited to the gentle timbre of the Raschèr Quartet. The centrepiece of the disc, a new arrangement of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint, is, however, a disappointment. Originally for eleven clarinets (one played live, the rest on tape) their performance of this version lacks the vitality, edge and jazziness of the original with playing that is too relaxed and polite.
The Quartet by Glazunov, the only standard repertoire piece on the disc, does not entirely benefit from the use of old instruments, for whilst there is some lovely quiet playing at the opening of the second movement, the more boisterous material of the third variation sounds forced and boxy, with some intonation problems. It is in Tristan Keuris’s Music for Saxophones that the quartet sounds at its most impressive, with some astonishingly virtuosic altissimo playing. Tim Payne