Ockeghem, Byrd, Bendusi, Koolmees, Ellington, Ter Doest, Strayhorn, Tajcevic, Debussy & Tchaikovsky

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bendusi,Byrd,Debussy & Tchaikovsky,Ellington,Koolmees,Ockeghem,Strayhorn,Tajcevic,Ter Doest
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Scene
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: 600 Years Calefax
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Calefax Reed Quintet
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 619 1043-2
Unlike previous Calefax recordings, which have concentrated on specific composers or styles, this 15th-anniversary collection is designed to show the diversity of its programmes. Though extraordinarily successful, the unique combination of reed instruments which constitutes this group has meant that it has had to generate the entire repertoire itself, and the quality of its transcriptions is as commendable as the standard of playing. The highlights for me are the two most recent works, Seven Balkan Dances by Marko Tajcevic and Hans Koolmees’s Estampie, written especially for Calefax. Both of these pieces make very effective use of the pungent reediness available through combinations of oboe and soprano saxophone and make convincing impersonations of ethnic and Renaissance instruments respectively. The same can also be said of the various 15th- and 16th-century transcriptions, all of which sound remarkably authentic. For once, however, my praise for this outstanding group is not without reservation; its attempt to incorporate jazz into the set hits on a personal phobia and I confess to finding the concept an embarrassment. Otherwise, aside from its questionable tempo for Debussy’s La plus que lente, the disc provides yet another display of both inventive arranging skills and superbly balanced ensemble-playing. Tim Payne