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Contrasts – Chamber Music for baritone saxophone
Felix TREIBER (b.1960)
Duo for baritone saxophone and piano (2006) [11:08]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Cello Sonata No.1 in B [12:51]
Otmar MÁCHA (b.1922)
Sonata for bassoon and piano (1963) transcribed for baritone saxophone [9:47]
J. Ryan GARBER (b.1973)
Another twist for baritone saxophone and piano (2006) [5:14]
Ernst PRAPPACHER (b.1927)
Quartet for baritone saxophone, violin, viola and cello (2003) [19:32]
Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745)
Sonata No.1 in F for two oboes, bassoon and basso continuo - Adagio and Allegro (1721-22) [7:25] ą
Linda Bangs (baritone saxophone); Annemi Egri (piano); Theo Breidenbach (violin); Charlotte Breidenbach (viola/violin ą) and Alev Akcos (cello)
rec. Akademie für Tonkunst, Darmstadt, April 2007 and in der Kath. Kirche Karlsruhe-Grötzingen, May 2007 (Prappacher and Zelenka)
ANTES EDITION BM-CD 31.9245 [66:05]


Experience Classicsonline

There’s something of a Crystal Records look to this line-up; adventurous music for the baritone saxophone allied to transcriptions both of contemporary and baroque material. Unlike in a concert, where this recital would presumably begin with the Vivaldi arrangement, Antes has had the courage to pitch straight in with Felix Treiber’s Duo. Naturally you can programme the Vivaldi and Zelenka first if you want to – but I doubt you would. They act as cleansing agents and enjoyable ones too, cannily interjected throughout the recital.

The Duo was written for Linda Bangs and Annemi Egri so the first performers give the piece its disc premiere as well. It’s a compact piece opening ruminatively except for the sudden, extrovert passage that ends the first movement. There’s an angular, edgy central movement that cleverly makes the maximum use of minimal thematic material and a keening, edged Lento finale. Otmar Mácha’s Sonata, originally for bassoon, dates from his earliest compositional years – he didn’t really start writing seriously until he was forty. As ever he proves adept and vigorous company, There are Czech folkloric strains in the opening Adagio and the lissom piano-led Allegro (this is a brief two movement work) has some march hues along the way – mildly unsettling maybe though the music itself is exciting and dynamic.

J. Ryan Gerber – with a name like that he has to be American (he is, he’s a native Virginian) – opens his Another Twist in dynamic fashion but crafts a songful lyricism onto it as well. He ends this one movement, sectional piece, only five minutes long, with freewheeling drama that ends up in the air, delightfully. The longest piece is Ernst Prappacher’s Quartet. He was a bassoonist and Director of Music and wrote his Quartet for Linda Bangs in 2003. It’s cast in four movements and opens in rather forbidding fashion before gradually thawing. There are hints of Berg in the writing. The scherzo is superficially jovial but there are some menacing hues along the way before the reflective, lyrical Adagio is ushered in. The finale is the most traditional sounding of the four movements – exciting speed courses through its veins.

Which leaves the baroque transcriptions. They both work surprisingly well and moreover in contrasting ways. The Vivaldi is a straight baritone-for-cello swap whilst in the Zelenka we have two violins and the continuo, which is played by the baritone. The notes suggest that this is a way of showing how the instrument’s utility can be extended in different contexts. I agree.

There are quite a few typos in the booklet but otherwise we’re given all we need to know. Good sound in both recording locations, needless to say. This is a versatile disc. None of the music is genuinely outstanding but for admirers of the sinuous, not-so-unwieldy baritone there is fun to be had.

Jonathan Woolf


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