This somewhat eclectic compositional line-up is given uniformity
by virtue of the medium; music written for saxophone and piano.
Fortmann’s Sonata is in three conventionally written movements
but it covers enjoyable stylistic ground. The opening Andante
is taken at a brisk pace - perhaps it’s a classical Andante
because it sounds more like an Allegretto to me - or maybe saxophonist
Marco Falaschi and pianist Marco Podestà want to distinguish
it from the following Adagio. In any case it’s Bluesy,
and peppy. There’s an Edward Hopper feel to the Adagio
- disconsolate, alone, possibly watched. The dancing patterns
of the finale announce Optimism and restoration of spirits, revisiting
the energy of the opening but this time even more uplifting.
Static rumination is the name of the game at the start of Joseph
Vella’s Sonata. Long, breathless lines - fine breath control
evinced here by the intrepid Falaschi - are the modus operandi,
whereas introspection is more overt in the central slow movement.
For his finale Villa unleashes some alternately pawky and witty
writing; nothing too craggy. It’s exceptionally well written
for the duo. The longest work on the disc is the single movement
Sonata-Fantasia by Sergio Calligaris. Dedicated to the present
performers it’s clearly played with authority. The composer
used to be a pianist and one notes the sonorous piano chording
and the tempestuous writing that sees the piano very much an
equal of the saxophone. It’s a multi-sectional work and
the slow meditative passages are attractive, though the concluding
section is rather brusque and insistent. It can seem a rather
lopsided work, and one that perhaps goes on too long.
Filiberto Pierami’s Berceuse was also dedicated to Falaschi,
and offers an immediate contrast to the over-extended Sonata-Fantasia.
This, by contrast, is an easeful delight. Finally we have Pedro
Iturralde’s Suite Hellénique
. The composer
is himself a saxophonist, and he has crafted a tangy, zesty little
suite, a sort of Hellenic-Hungarian affair, jazzy in part with
legato warmness, a superior waltz - albeit with a bit of cocktail-Brubeck
thrown in, and a vivacious ride-out to finish a delicious work.
It characterises a disc that veers from the introspective to
the unbuttoned. Sometimes there are undoubted longeurs, but there’s
usually something vivacious around the corner. The booklet notes
have composer biographies but generally nothing about the individual
works, which is a lack.