Classical CD Reviews

Martyrs for the Faith – American Saxophone Concertos by PAUL CRESTON; DAVID DEBOOR CANFIELD; JOHN CHETHAM; INGOLF DAHL – Kenneth Tse, alto sax/ U. of Iowa Symphony Band/ Richard Mark Heidel – MSR Classics
“Saxophone Romance” – Olli-Pekka Tuomisalo, saxophone & his orchestra – Alba (SACD)

Two interesting sax collections, one actually a SACD with a chamber ensemble and the other a CD with a concert band.

Published on May 10, 2013

Martyrs for the Faith – American Saxophone Concertos = PAUL CRESTON: Concerto Op. 26; DAVID DEBOOR CANFIELD: Martyrs for the Faith; JOHN CHETHAM: Concerto Agrariana; INGOLF DAHL: Concerto – Kenneth Tse, alto sax/ University of Iowa Symphony Band/ Richard Mark Heidel (Ray Cramer, guest cond. on Canfield sel.) – MSR Classics MS 1359, 78:15 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

This is a most unusual collection of works for alto sax and concert band—all four of them world premiere recordings, and both the Canfield and Chetham works commissioned by classical saxophonist Tse. The album title comes from the Canfield Concerto, which commemorates in its three movements three martyrs of the Christian faith, each movement based upon a hymn. The first is a second-century martyr and uses primitive, almost violent sounds; the second is one of the Huguenot victims of the St. Bartholomew massacre of 1572; and the last movement has a Latin-American flavor, being in honor of a missionary killed in Ecuador in 1956.

Three other three concerti are somewhat shorter in length. Paul Creston was one of the best-known American composers of the ‘40s and ‘50s. He changed his name from Giuseppe Gutteveggio (wow!). Conductor Edwin Franko Goldman—at the time known as “the greatest saxophonist in the U.S.”—commissioned the work of Creston. It is a virtuoso work in all three movements and shows off the abilities of the saxophone as the perfect solo instrument in classical music.

German composer Ingolf Dahl, like so many other composers, studied with Nadia Boulanger, and ended up with the circle of composers who settled in the Los Angeles area. Collaboration with Stravinsky affected his style of composition. His diatonic and extremely virtuosic Concerto was commissioned by famed saxophonist Sigurd Rascher.

I don’t believe the SUI Concert Band was considered a Symphony Band when I attended there, but I see they were recorded in the same Iowa Memorial Union in which I had played in the percussion section of the SUI Symphony. The recorded sonics are fine, and they make us wonder why there are not more recordings and performances of such works for sax and orchestra.


“Saxophone Romance” [TrackList follows] – Olli-Pekka Tuomisalo, saxophone & his orchestra – Alba multichannel SACD ABCD 317, 55:09 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

This enjoyable album is a one-person effort of classical saxophonist Tuomisalo. He says in his notes that it shows his love for musical roots, which are light orchestral music and Duke Ellington. These remains as close to him now as does contemporary classical music and rock. He personally arranged three of the four Ellington tunes on this SACD. He put together a chamber orchestra of musicians he holds in high regard and added a jazz trio he really liked for the Ellington numbers.

Tuomisalo was the first saxophonist to receive a Dr. of Music degree from the Sibelius Academy in Finland. He has performed over 100 concertos—primarily works of Finnish composers, and has released seven other CDs to date. His support of new classical saxophone repertory has resulted in the creation of about 50 new works written especially for him.

Most of the non-Ellington tracks will be more familiar to European listeners than to those in North America, but a few stand out, such as the Drigo “Valse Bluette.”  The surround sonics, which place the musicians on a very wide soundstage, add to the enjoyment of the album. Of course, like all SACDs now, this is also a standard CD.

TrackList:
JACOBSEN: Valse Scherzando; ELLINGTON: Star-Crossed Lovers; GODZINSKY: Piece Roemantique; DRIGO: Valse Bluette; ELLINGTON: Chelsea Bridge; BORNSCHEIN: Lyrical Vision; BACHNER: Hechtspünge; ELLINGTON: Prelude to a Kiss; FISCHER: Im Schein der Abensonne; LINDNER: Valse Caprice; ELLINGTON: Sultry Sunset

—John Sunier




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