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Under the Sign of the Sun
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Concertino da camera (1934) [12:05]
Henri TOMASI (1901-1972)
Concerto for alto saxophone (1949) [18:51]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pavane pour une Infante défunte (1899) [6:08]
Paule MAURICE (1910-1967)
Tableaux de Provence (Suite) (1948-55) [14:20]
Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958)
Légende, Op.66 (1918) [11:26]
Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Scaramouche, Op.165c (Suite) (1930) [9:14]
Claude Delangle (saxophone)
Singapore Symphony Orchestra/Lan Shui
rec. August 2004, Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore. DDD
BIS CD-1357 [73:49]

I have long adored the sound of the saxophone. I associate the start of my infatuation with first hearing the Glazunov concerto, the prominent sax part in the Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances and later encountering John Harle in a TV broadcast of Nyman’s Where the Bee Dances.
There are now quite a few saxophone anthologies and Claude Delange now adds valuably to that line-up with this new mix of French familiars and discoveries.
The flighty Ibert has a  pleasing grate and rasp and is done with zest and enchanting languor. Tomasi is amongst my long list of composers to recommend. His concerto is sultry, warm-breathed, slightly sinister, fluent and devilishly jazzy. It's in two movements like the Ibert. I recommend further Tomasi recording projects and hope that he will be accorded whole discs in future collections. He is a fascinating composer and while there is a Mediterranean aspect to his music he also wrote provocative pieces celebrating the French love affair with the Far East.

I am no purist and am pleased to welcome the Ravel Pavane in an adaptation by Tami Nodaira. It is lovingly done although it could here have benefited from a slower more caressing performance. Beyond criticism, however, is the quiet volume which is magically sustained and much the same can be said of Maurice's lovely second movement of the suite - the Cansoun per ma mio.

Paule Maurice is little known. Her light-on-the-palate Provencal suite radiates warmth and glows with southern colours. It is not without bubbling humour and breathtaking poetry especially in the atmospheric Dis Alyscamps. The movements are: I. Farandoulo di Chatouno 2:23; II. Cansoun per ma mio 1:55; III. La Boumanio 1:06; IV. Dis Alyscamps, l’amo souspire 5:28; V. Lou Cabridan 3:28.

Florent Schmitt
has attracted the record companies and over the last year there have been several piano collections and most recently the Hyperion choral-orchestral CD. I impatiently await the first commercial recording of his major work for cello and orchestra: Introit, Recit et Congé. His Légende has none of the stage grandeur of his big choral pieces. This Orientally mysterious reflection has more to do with Koechlin’s orchestral fantasy Les Heures Persanes. There is little in the way of overt display although there are some transitory volcanic moments as at 5:43 and a brief flourish at 10:10. It is undemonstrative and pensive rather like Holst's Lyric movement for viola and orchestra. In fact Légende also exists in a version for viola and orchestra which was recorded years ago on Cybélia CY816.

The Milhaud Scaramouche (I. Vif 2:52; II. Modéré 3:59; III. Brazileira 2:20) is drawn from the music he wrote for Molière's play The Fleet-Footed Doctor. The music positively gurgles and bubbles with uproarious good spirits though more tempered writing can be heard in the Modéré middle movement. Delangle and Lan Shui guide us colourfully and not too breathlessly through the final leisurely rumba Brazileira.
Notes and presentation are spot-on except that I would have liked to have had more to read about Paule Maurice.
Rob Barnett


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