Thomas FORTMANN (b.1951)
Sonata for Saxophone and Piano [10:16]
Joseph VELLA (b. 1942)
Sonata [14:19]
Sergio CALLIGARIS (b.1941)
Sonata-Fantasia Op.31a for saxophone and piano (2006) [18:57]
Filiberto PIERAMI (b.1958)
Berceuse for Alto Saxophone and Piano Op.12 [4:32]
Pedro ITURRALDE (b.1929)
Suite Hellénique (c.2008) [7:05]
Marco Falaschi (saxophones)
Marco Podestà (piano)
rec. Il poderino della Gioiosa, Casale Marittimo, undated

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.

Jonathan Woolf