SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

“Escapades” = JOHN WILLIAMS: Escapades for Sax & Orch.; MICHAEL NYMAN: Where the Bee dances for Soprano Sax & Orch.; ANDREI ESHPAI: Konzert for Sax & Orch.; BOB MINTZER: Rhythm of the Americas – Jan Schulte-Bunert, sax/ Neue Philharmonie Westfalen/ Heiko Mathias Förster/ with clair-obscur sax quartet – Solo Musica (vinyls)

Four great classical concerti for saxophone(s) and orchestra on a vinyl double album.

Published on May 17, 2013

“Escapades” = JOHN WILLIAMS: Escapades for Sax & Orch.; MICHAEL NYMAN: Where the Bee dances for Soprano Sax & Orch.; ANDREI ESHPAI: Konzert for Sax & Orch.; BOB MINTZER: Rhythm of the Americas – Jan Schulte-Bunert, sax/ Neue Philharmonie Westfalen/ Heiko Mathias Förster/ with clair-obscur sax quartet – Solo Musica (vinyls)

“Escapades” = JOHN WILLIAMS: Escapades for Sax & Orch.; MICHAEL NYMAN: Where the Bee dances for Soprano Sax & Orch.; ANDREI ESHPAI: Konzert for Sax & Orch.; BOB MINTZER: Rhythm of the Americas – Jan Schulte-Bunert, saxophone/ Neue Philharmonie Westfalen/ Heiko Mathias Förster/ with clair-obscur sax quartet (in Mintzer) – Solo Musica GmbH SMLP 186 (2-33⅓ vinyls) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

This LP set is quite a surprise; it’s also available on CD at a far lower price (about $58 on vinyl). I wasn’t familiar with the classical saxophonist, but he has won many prizes in Europe and lectures and performs widely on classical saxophone. He also leads a saxophone quartet, clair-obscur, which is heard in the fourth of these four works. Schulte-Bunert has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002.

This is a fine program which should do much to enlarge and support the position of the saxophone in classical music. John Williams based his Escapades on the score he had written for the 2002 comedy film Catch Me If You Can, about an actual trickster and check forger played by Leonard DiCaprio. This was just one of his over one hundred film scores. Michael Nyman early on rejected serialized music and was one of the first to coin the term minimal music. He uses a continuous rhythmic pulse similar to the beat in pop music, and is known for his many scores for the films of Peter Greenaway. His concerto for soprano sax and orchestra refers both to the little dance the honeybees do to communicate to the hive about a food source, and Nyman’s setting of “Where the Bee Sucks,” from his score for Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books.

Andrei Eshpai hails from one of the outlying Russian republics on the Volga, and studied and teaches at the Moscow Conservatory. He has written many classical concertos for various instruments, including this colorful single-movement work for the saxophone and orchestra. Bob Mintzer is known as a much-recorded reed player and bandleader, but he also is a successful composer and arranger. In his four-movement Rhythm of the Americas for sax quartet and orchestra he deals with the beginnings of American jazz in creating a sort of crossover work. Its movements are: Convergence of French and English, Afro-Caribbean, Jazzical, and Confluence.

The sonics are rich and detailed, even though there is nearly a half hour of music on the last of the four sides. There is plenty of space of detailed notes on both the performers and the music, with the insides of the double-fold album plus the record sleeves.  An excellent analog mastering job preserves the utmost fidelity.

—John Sunier




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