Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bach and Villa-Lobos for Saxophone


Here's an impressive new release from a young artist with a bright future in the classical music world, saxophonist Asya Fateyeva. My primary interest here is the music by Villa-Lobos, but the Bach arrangements, by Fateyeva herself, are musical and show off the capabilities both of her instrument and herself. She receives solid support from the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn under Ruben Gazarian. The saxophone's natural singing tone is used to good effect, but the subtle colour effects that Fateyeva provides as an arranger and a performer keep things fresh, while Gazarian's brisk tempi make sure things don't get bogged down in sentimentality. The celebrated Aria from the Fifth Bachianas Brasileiras is arranged with due respect to the composer's original version where the voice has support from 8 cellos (or, rather, a solo cello and seven others), and not with a more generic "strings" accompaniment that is often used. This performance of the Fantasia for Saxophone should help provide some traction for a work that I've always felt should be much better known than it currently is. It's been turning up fairly regularly on programs around the world since it was the center-piece of Branford Marsalis's Marsalis Brasilianos tour back in 2012, and young saxophonists like Asya Fateyeva are right to play it often. A highly recommended disc!

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