WORKS: Saxophone Concerto; Where the Bee Dances; The Celtic; I Sleep at Waking; From Nowhere to Nowhere
PERFORMER: Gerard McChrystal (saxophone); London Musici/Mark Stephenson
CATALOGUE NO: SILKD 6010 DDD
This is a very enjoyable recording comprising three contemporary saxophone concertos, all written for the popular soprano instrument, separated by two unaccompanied solos for alto. Listeners who are wary of contemporary music need have no such fears here, since all the works are very approachable. The Michael Torke Concerto is particularly attractive, with a first movement showing the influence of Steve Reich and a lyrical slow movement which owes a clear debt to film composer Dave Grusin.
Where the Bee Dances will be known to some through its use by the Rambert Dance Company, as well as from the recording by John Harle. This is an exciting work played here with considerable energy and, as throughout the disc, with excellent orchestral accompaniment. The two short solo pieces by Ian Wilson and Michael McGlynn do not adopt the minimalist styles of the concertos but form contrasting interludes. Overall, the performances are very good, with the soloist displaying great commitment and intensity.
My only reservation is that, although a hard-edged approach is appropriate for much of these pieces, his playing in the more melodic passages seems to be rather lacking in warmth. Tim Payne