COMPOSERS: Singelée; Pierné; Bozza; Lago; Reinhart; Gregory
ALBUM TITLE: Flux
WORKS: Works by Singelée, Pierné, Bozza, Lago, Reinhart and Gregory
PERFORMER: Ferio Saxophone Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10987
The Ferio Saxophone Quartet made their debut in Britain in 2015 and have quickly risen to the top. The reasons are obvious from this vividly recorded disc: rhythmic precision; wide-ranging colours; and balanced textures that allows individuality for each thread in a contrapuntal web. Their repertoire – half abstract, half descriptive – spans the years from 1862 to music premiered this April. Yet dates can be deceptive: Hugo Reinhart’s F minor Quartet appears to come from the early 19th century, but was actually written in 2008, with a perfectly straight face.
It didn’t charm me much; unlike Gabriel Pierné’s Introduction et variations sur une ronde populaire, a brilliant colour kaleidoscope from 1936, and a marvellous tribute to French finesse. Among the recent descriptive items, the Ciudades of Guillermo Lago (pen name for Dutch saxophonist Willem van Merwijk) pile on the exotic but limp a little: a flaw triumphantly avoided in his pungent Wordsworth Poems. Sustaining a strong repertoire for a non-standard instrumental group will always be a challenge; but the Ferios certainly have skill on their side, and every emotional hue you could want – smoky, honeyed, shrieking or sad.