Classical CD Reviews

“French Fusion” – The Crossover Jazz of CLAUDE BOLLING – The Saint Michael Trio (with bass, guitar & drums) – Presentation Partners
“All About Fugues” – Works of BACH, BEETHOVEN, MENDELSSOHN, SCHUMANN, BRAHMS, STRAUSS, HINDEMITH – Deutsches Saxophone Ens. – Chromart Classics

Two quite different classical crossover CDs.

Published on March 10, 2013

“French Fusion” – The Crossover Jazz of CLAUDE BOLLING – The Saint Michael Trio (with bass, guitar & drums) [TrackList follows] – Presentation Partners PP 891, 51:47 ****:

“All About Fugues” – Works of BACH, BEETHOVEN, EMNDELSSOHN, SCHUMANN, BRAHMS, STRAUSS, HINDEMITH [TrackList follows] Deutsches Saxophone Ensemble – Chromart Classics TXA12-12, 62:07 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

French musical legend Claude Bolling is know for his several crossover jazz suites for solo instruments plus jazz piano trio, which have involved such soloists are Yo-Yo Ma and Jean-Pierre Rampal. The Staint Michael Trio consists of Daniel Cher on violin, Michael Flexer on cello and Russell Hancock on piano, and for this CD they were expanded to sextet size by a second trio of musicians. All three of the trio members have professional careers unrelated to their music. For example, Daniel Cher is by day a medical doctor (St. Michael is the patron saint of physicians), and pianist Russell Hancock is president and CEO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. They are all based in the Silicon Valley area.

They have taken Bolling’s material and converted it slightly to fit their three instruments plus the additional trio. David Benoit, in his note booklet, refers to the result as “a Frenchified style of California cooking.” The nine selections are taken from Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, his Picnic Suite and two from his Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio. Balancing their two lives doesn’t come easy for the members of the trio but they say they do it because they have to. Even if you have the Bolling originals I think you’ll also like this CD.

TrackList:

Baroque & Blue, Sentimentale, Galop, Tendre, Badine, Irlandaise, JAvanaise, Romantique, Veloce


The German Saxophone Ensemble is playing the original composers’ works here, just in a different instrumentation. They are convinced that the sax quartet of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone instruments is the preferred choice for a re-working of nearly the entire German musical tradition with the youngest of all well-known musical instruments. They feel the sax quartet offers a new transparency to polyphonic structures, thus making it perfect for the new versions of these fugues from the music of seven well-known composers. By the way, the makeup of the quartet is three woman and one man.

First are four fugues taken from Hindemith’s piano suite Ludus Tonalis. Then it’s three Contrapunctus selections from Bach’s Art of the Fugue. A Prelude and two fugues from Mendelssohn’s Op. 35 is next, followed by two short fugues of Robert Schumann. Fugues by Brahms, R. Strauss and Beethoven bring the program to a close, the last track being the 16-minute-long Grosse Fugue from Beethoven’s Op. 133 Quartet. It’s absolutely fascinating to hear this one on the sax quartet instead of the usual string quartet.

TrackList:

PAUL HINDEMITH (1895–1963)
Suite aus Ludus tonalis für Klavier
Fuga secunda – Allegro
Fuga nona – Moderato, scherzando
Fuga quarta – Con energia
Fuga quinta – Vivace

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685–1750)
aus: Die Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080
Contrapunctus I
Contrapunctus IV
Contrapunctus IX

FELIX MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847)
Suite aus Sechs Präludien und Fugen Op. 35
Präludium Nr. 2 D-Dur – Allegretto
Fuge Nr. 2 D-Dur – Tranquillo e sempre legato
Fuge Nr. 6 B-Dur – Allegro con brio

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
aus: Sechs Fugen über den Namen BACH Op. 60
Fuge 5 – Lebhaft
Fuge 2 – Lebhaft

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833–1897)
Choralvorspiel und Fuge über »O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid«

RICHARD STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Fuge zu vier Themen für Klavier

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Große Fuge B-Dur op. 133

—John Sunier




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