WORKS: Concerto for Soprano Saxophone; Concerto for Stan Getz; Saxophone Concerto
PERFORMER: John Harle (saxophone) Argo SO/James Judd, BBC Concert Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth, Albany SO/David Alan Miller
CATALOGUE NO: 443 529-2 DDD
A virtuoso and a sensitive musician (the two don’t always coincide), John Harle has extended the ‘classical’ saxophone repertoire enormously. All three concertos on the Sax Drive collection prove worthwhile. Richard Rodney Bennett’s 1990 piece was intended for jazz saxophonist Stan Getz to use as crossover material into classical territory, and with its film noir overtones and blues-in-the-night slow movement conjoins distinct styles in a creative manner. The late Stanley Myers was best-known for his film and TV scores, but he too relished the challenge of concert music, producing an eclectic piece that has enough identity of its own to make a definite impact.
Minimalism of a state-of-the-art kind motivates much of Torke’s piece, though how poorly its processes survive in slow tempo conditions is clear from the second movement.
The earlier concerto by the German-born American Ingolf Dahl (1912-70) shows the neo-classical influence of the Stravinsky of Oedipus Rex. Dahl was in fact Stravinsky’s assistant for some years, and elements of his language, as well as Hindemith’s and Copland’s, provide such character as his workmanlike but indigestible pieces possess. Static yet efficient performances under ex-Dahl pupil Tilson Thomas, while Harle is again the complete saxophonist. George Hall