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A Unique Sound

Italian baroque music
played on saxophones -
appreciated by

'... quality with a very large Q.'

Copenhagen Saxophone Quartet: Italian Baroque. © 2007 Helicon Records

Italian baroque music on saxophone quartet? One to drive the purists crazy perhaps, but that would be their problem. I have to confess that I usually enjoy exercises like this provided they contain not just good playing but good arranging to boot. This recording provides those in spades. The saxophone sound is after all not a million miles away from that of baroque oboes, and baroque music, because of its construction, lends itself to transcription. (Think of Bach, who has been arranged for endless and varied ensembles, some suitable, some not; but who remains indestructible.)

All that being said, any undertaking like this has to convince us that it is worthwhile, and the Copenhageners play with a such wealth of control, restraint and finely-graded tone, their sound often creamy but never glutinous as sax quartets can sometimes become, that it would be a hard heart indeed that was not won over. How much of this is anything to do with the fact that the upper half of the quartet (Torben Snekkestad and Maret Petersen) is male while the 'anchorwomen' playing the big tubes are Jeanette Balland and Charlotte Andersson, is anyone's guess; but the end result is a unique sound and approach. (Snekkestad and Andersson also share the arranging credits.)

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Copyright © 26 February 2008 Paul Sarcich, London UK


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