Iíve just emerged from a marathon session devoted to the protean
Karg-Elertís work for saxophone, his Twenty-Five Caprices for
saxophone solo and Sonata (atonal) for alto saxophone solo Op.153
(1929) Ė a saxophonic mouthful if ever there was one.
Just over a decade earlier however he had
immersed himself in works for the flute Ė all such works were
compressed into a four-year period that coincided with the First
World War. The Op.121 Sonata lasts a quarter of an hour. Itís
fluent, fluid and cast in one movement reflective of a number
of different influences. Itís often rather crude to do what
Leonard Bernstein was habitually given to doing when reading
through a friendís score and shouting out the alleged influences
Ė but letís try it anyway; Straussís Violin Sonata, Reger, French
impressionism. Itís in the slower central panel that Karg-Elert
shifts his centre of geographical axis to Paris; the outer sections
are full of acrobatic verve and flecked with caprice. Itís a
vital, engaging work and fully reflective of its big, hard working
There are thirty
of the Op.107 solo Studies - of which Julian Cawdrey gives us
twelve. They vary in impetus from Bachian to Paganini-motored.
There are some tough demands throughout. Keeping the melody
line intact at speed throughout No.17 sounds especially difficult
for example, though itís a measure of Cawdrayís success that
he proves equal to al challenges. His articulation in No.18
and impeccable intonation are two building blocks of his musicianship,
the leaps here surmounted with athleticism. In No.30 his tone
remains pure even under strong technical pressure.
It may seem bizarre
to couple Karg-Elert with Hoddinott but itís not as odd all
that. Nocturnes and Cadenzas for flute Op.101b was written in
1980. Itís free-flowing, lyrical, quizzical and ends in stillness
Ė not Stygian but with a sense of accomplishment, of things
achieved. The Flute sonata was written for Cawdrey. This has
some splendid things. The Scherzo is imbued with brilliant trills
and a dose of avian fervour with the piano scurrying to keep
up. The slow movement by contrast is languid, folkloric even.
The finale is a kind of railway boogie Ė infectious in its motoric
are first class, the recordings equally so. The coupling is
certainly not obvious but note that the Hoddinott pieces are
heard in their first ever recordings.