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Saxophone Voices from Five Countries
Ron NELSON (b.1929)
1. Danza Capriccio (c.1988)  [12:32]
Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950)
2. Andante – from 15 Pièces pour Cor et Piano Op.180 No.7  [3:14]
3. Le Repos de Tityre from 11 Monodies pour Instruments à Vent Op.216 No.10 [2:39]
Paul BONNEAU (1918-1995)
4. Caprice en forme de Valse [4:49]
Elliot DEL BORGO (b.1938)
5. Canto [4:42]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
6. Fantasia for soprano saxophone (1948) [10:18]
Toshiyuki and Naomi HONDA (b.1957)
7. Four Jazz Etudes [16:00]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
8. Tango from the Tango Etudes [3:27]
Rudy WIEDOEFT (1893-1940)
9. Saxophobia [1:45]
Keith R Young (saxophones, all)
Judith Radell (piano, 1 & 9)
Angelo Versace (piano, 7)
Ron Warren (piano 2, 3 & 6)
rec. Complex One Recording Studio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, 2006-2007 (5, 7, 8 & 9); University of Maryland Tawes Recital Hall, 1997 (4 & 6) and 1990 (2 & 3); Indiana University of Pennsylvania Gorell Recital Hall 2000 (1)
Experience Classicsonline

Adventurous as ever Crystal Records here investigates some entertaining twentieth century works for saxophone. The saxophone colossus and protagonist is Keith R Young, whose chops are put to the test in a demanding programme. He’s by no means the first saxophone player to be covered in this series – Kenneth Tse has had an extensive role to play, and Harvey Pittel, Laura Hunter, Lawrence Gwozdz and Bill Perconti have all recorded for the label.
One of the most disconcerting things in this recital though is the change in acoustics as we move from one location to another.  Ron Nelson’s piece is rather sabotaged by the echo and by virtue of the very backwardly placed piano, which might as well have been in another room. There are some testing demands here with some cruelly high writing that finds Young wanting. The enjoyable cantabile central section offsets these punishments well – and there’s a fast, agile conclusion. The piece is broadly traditional and was written c.1988.
Young has disinterred a couple of Koechlin’s rather beautiful pieces; the Andante  from 15 Pièces pour Cor et Piano is a lovely chanson whereas Le Repos de Tityre from 11 Monodies pour Instruments à  Vent is a brief, if expressive, solo for soprano saxophone. I enjoyed Paul Bonneau’s Caprice en forme de Valse greatly. It too is for solo saxophone and has its share of quixotic, virtuosic pileups. But the dialogues are full of theatre and excitement and there’s a wait-for-it payoff at the end that will bring a smile to even the flintiest of mouths. 
Del Borgo’s Canto is rather melancholic – despite the fast runs and even squeals. Better is Villa-Lobos’ Fantasia where allure and plasticity of melodic line ensure permanent enthusiasm. It’s rightly conversational in tone, not querulous like some on this disc, with a lonely winding slow movement and a splendid finale. Toshiyuki and Naomi Honda wrote Four Jazz Etudes. The notes say the first is a Swing duet; Bop surely. The Etudes are written for soprano and alto with piano and Young digs into them with relish, enjoying the tumbling lines, the funkier workouts and the light hearted moments in Fake, the second Etude. Piazzolla’s Tango is ever-busy and talking of which we are pitched back to the 1920s with Rudy Wiedoeft’s Saxophobia with its full ratio of varsity pep.
Young is joined by a trio of pianists in an array of recording locations. These, as noted, can be erratically captured. It’s an unusual programme, generally well performed. Stylistically there’s nothing too way out here.
Jonathan Woolf


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