Falla: Siete Canciones populares españolas; Marcello: Concerto in D minor (arr. for saxophone and piano); Maurice: Tableaux de Provence; plus works by Debussy, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, Schubert, Piazzolla, Rimsky-Korsakov, Yoshimatsu
Huw Wiggin (saxophone), Oliver Wass (harp), John Lenehan (piano)
Orchid Classics ORC 100084 71:43 mins
Despite its versatility, the saxophone is too often overlooked as a solo instrument. This appealing collection of works pairs original compositions alongside reimagined popular classics in a welcome celebration of this agile and sonorous instrument.
Having won the Commonwealth Musician of the Year and the 2014 Royal Overseas League Annual Music Competition, Huw Wiggin is fast emerging as one of the UK’s star saxophonists. He brings a keen musical intelligence and a remarkably beautiful sound to these performances, ably accompanied by John Lenehan (piano) and Oliver Wass (harp). The repertoire featured is a rich if perhaps too-varied assortment, with some transcriptions yielding greater rewards than others. Marcello’s Concerto in D minor (originally for oboe) works splendidly, and Lenehan deftly conjures the crispness of a fortepiano in his accompaniment, while in Manuel de Falla’s 7 Canciones populares españolas Wiggin brings both silk and spice to his vibrant interpretation. Less successful are transcriptions of two Schubert songs (‘Bist die Ruhr’ and ‘Die Forelle’) which although appealingly performed, somehow do not approach the depth of the originals. Indeed, the real highlights of the disc are two works originally composed for saxophone and piano: Paule Maurice’s lyrical Tableaux de Provence (1948-55) and Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Sing Bird (1991). In the latter, the saxophone is scored in a quasi-improvisatory style to soar and wheel, and Wiggin brings dazzling flair and imagination to his performance, providing a notably uplifting close to this enjoyable disc.