Nyman, Fitkin, Glass & Sakamoto

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COMPOSERS: Fitkin,Glass & Sakamoto,Nyman
LABELS: Black Box
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Frame
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Simon Haram (saxophone); Duke Quartet
The soprano saxophone is a remarkable instrument, with a wide compass, and an expressive range from aching sweetness to piercing incisiveness. Graham Fitkin, Cornish-born but decidedly metropolitan-sounding, balances these two extremes to great effect in his Frame, with marimba, and in Hard Fairy, with two pianos – the latter a wildly exhilarating toccata with an unexpected coda in Latin rhythms. In Glass, Fitkin also offers the saxophone (with piano) a simple and beautiful song melody which players of other instruments may covet as a recital encore. The Michael Nyman piece is a version of music from the film The Piano, using Nyman’s favourite saxophone (plus string quartet and bass guitar) in a way that the original for once didn’t; Philip Glass’s Façades (double-tracked sax plus quartet and bass guitar again) disturbs the composer’s usual smooth surface with little semitone clashes; Forbidden Colours, Simon Haram’s own arrangement of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian, floats the saxophone over the saturated textures of piano, quartet and guitar. Throughout this well-planned programme, Haram shows himself to be a complete master of his instrument, and he is well supported by his various colleagues and by an appropriately up-front recording. Anthony Burton