Classical CD Reviews

LOVREGLIO: Concerto for sax quartet and orchestra (1938); Quatuor for saxophones (1934); Andante for sax quartet (1938) – Dynamic CDS 759, 56:29 – Quartetto dei Sassofoni Accademia
Amstel Quartet – Amstel Tracks NOW! = BACH: Nun komm…; LAGO: Ciudades; BRAHMS: Poco Allegretto from Sym. No. 3; NYMAN: 3 Movements from String Quartet No. 2; MOZART: Adagio & Fugue K.546; Barber: Adagio for Strings; SWELLINCK: Chromatic Fantasy; RIVIER: Grade et Presto; Ravel: Pavane; TAN DUN: 3 mov’t – Amstel Quartet – Challenge

A pair of fun classical sax quartet CDs.

Published on April 20, 2014

ELEUTERIO LOVREGLIO: Concerto for sax quartet and orchestra (1938); Quatuor for saxophones (1934); Andante for sax quartet (1938) – Dynamic CDS 759, 56:29 -  Quartetto dei Sassofoni Accademia – [Distr. by Naxos] (6/25/13) ****:

Amstel Quartet – Amstel Tracks NOW! = BACH: Nun komm…; LAGO: Ciudades; BRAHMS: Poco Allegretto from Sym. No. 3; NYMAN: 3 Movements from String Quartet No. 2; MOZART: Adagio & Fugue K.546; Barber: Adagio for Strings; SWEELINCK: Chromatic Fantasy; RIVIER: Grade et Presto; Ravel: Pavane pour un infante defunte; TAN DUN: 3 mov’t – Amstel Quartet – Challenge CC72534 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

Lovreglio, who’s dates fall neatly into 1900-1972, was first violin of the La Scala Theater’s orchestra conducted by Toscanini. His compositional works blend French and Chinese musical influence and show uncommon musicality. It is a shame that his music is still unknown by most, but this fine CD of three of his works should improve his standing among composers. His works remain in the tonal realm; he withdrew from the troubles in Europe during the first half of the 20th century and the rise of new artistic movements in music. All three works here are being heard in world premiere recordings.

His Concerto for Saxophones was part of the general trend toward sounds new and exotic, using unusual instruments. His Concerto uses the sax quartet as a single polyphonic instrument. The pieces has echoes of Respighi and Puccini plus oriental influences. It was written for the Marcel Mule sax quartet, and is here heard in a live performance by the Quartetto dei Sassofoni Accademia.  The Quartet echoes moods and atmospheres, much like the string quartets of Ravel and Debussy. A common denominator in the work is the influence of China. The work has been long neglected because it was actually ahead of its time.


It was the 15th anniversary of the Dutch saxophone quartet in 2012, and they decided to do a second album combining a lot of pieces which both they and their audiences liked, on a CD. All the selections have also been composed for them or arranged by them. The one exception is the inclusion of the Rivier piece, because they feel they have a strong connection to it. The Amstel Quartet has a reputation as “the most colorful saxophone quartet in the world.”  Their programs are always surprising and innovative. Artists in other disciplines, such as dance, mime, theater, film, and even an Indian tabla player, enjoy working with the quartet.

Their program this time jumps all over the place. It opens with Bach, a favorite of sax quartets. Their arrangement of the one movement from Brahms’ Third Symphony is lovely, and Barber’s Adagio for Strings works very well with a sax quartet. The closing selection is from a contemporary composer who was one of the first names to come up when the quartet drew up a list of composers from whom they would like to have commissioned works. They are working on a “Reed Road” sort of project with Tan Dun, but in the meantime they arranged one his piano works for the quartet, and thus the Eight Sketches in Hunan Accent.

TrackList:

1. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (II), chorale prelude for organ (Achtzehn Choräle No. 8), BWV 659 (BC K82)
2. Ciudades, for saxophone quartet: Córdoba
3. Ciudades, for saxophone quartet: Sarajevo
4. Ciudades, for saxophone quartet: Addis Ababa
5. Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90: Poco Allegretto
6. String Quartet No. 2: 1.
7. String Quartet No. 2: 2.
8. String Quartet No. 2: 3.
9. Adagio and Fugue for string quartet (or string orchestra) in C minor, K. 546: Adagio
10. Adagio and Fugue for string quartet (or string orchestra) in C minor, K. 546: Fuga
11. Adagio for strings (or string quartet; arr. from 2nd mvt. of String Quartet), Op. 11
12. Fantasia Chromatica for keyboard ‘Dorian’
13. Grave et Presto for saxophone quartet
14. Pavane pour une infante défunte, for piano (or orchestra)
15. Pieces (8) in Hunan Accent, piano pieces for young pianists: Floating Clouds
16. Pieces (8) in Hunan Accent, piano pieces for young pianists: Ancient Burial
17. Pieces (8) in Hunan Accent, piano pieces for young pianists: Sunrain
—John Sunier



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