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Saxophone Cinema
Georgi SVIRIDOV (1915-19980
The Snowstorm; three scenes [8:18]
Ennio MORRICONE (b.1928)
One Upon A Time in the West: three scenes [8:42]
John BARRY (1933-2011)
Dances with Wolves; five scenes [6:33]
Bernard HERRMANN (1911-1975)
Psycho; four scenes [5:24]
Michael NYMAN (b.1944)
Hotel de la Ville [6:09]
Nino ROTA (1922-1979)
Rota-Suite; music from Otto e Mezzo, The Godfather, La Dolce Vita [7:13]
Hanns EISLER (1898-1962)
Dans les Rues, Orchestersuite No.5 [6:50]
John WILLIAMS (b.1932)
Star Wars; main theme [3:52]
Hans ZIMMER (b.1957)
Pirates of the Caribbean; He's A Pirate [1:53]
Henry MANCINI (1924-1994)
Pink Panther; theme [3:07]
Selmer Saxharmonic/Milan Turković
rec. undated, Ehemaliges Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster

Selmer Saxharmonic is a twelve-strong saxophone ensemble directed by the experienced Viennese-born conductor Milan Turković. For those who like their sax sections broken down, I can reveal that there is one sopranino, two sopranos, three altos, three tenors, two baritones and one bass, a line-up that would have had Stan Kenton licking his lips with relish.

The disc title is self-explanatory, the music ranging from Giorgi Sviridov's evergreen Snowstorm through Hanns Eisler to the biggies; John Barry, John Williams, Henry Mancini and Ennio Morricone. There's a jaunty, rather droll air to some of the writing and arrangements, which cleverly exploit the voice layering with an ensemble of this kind. The notes are even jauntier, signed by the Pink Panther himself - that Mancini theme is the disc's envoi - and that cat is not giving away any clues as to much in the way of arrangements and responsibilities. They are merely noted in small print in the booklet - most are the work of Christoph Enzel, one of the tenor players.

So, the notes being the jolly thing that they are, it's best to enjoy this recital for what it is, an engaging romp. Sviridov's music is represented by only three scenes, but they make for a useful contrastive trio, warmly textured and melodically distinctive. There are also three cuts from Morricone's Once Upon A Time In The West, but they are singly tracked and run consecutively. The cleverest is the ingenious depiction of the harmonica and here, and in Cheyenne, there are hints that Enzel has been listening to John Harle in Michael Nyman's band. There are five scenes from Barry's Dances with Wolves, again single-tracked and lasting six-and-a-half-minutes. It's not my favourite Barry film music by a long chalk but the ensemble finds excellent colours and locates its lyricism. The Prelude to Herrmann's Psycho is the longest of the four cuts by some way, and the saxes do manage to evoke the music's brittleness. Talking of Nyman, homage is paid via Hotel de la Ville, its irregular rhythms very characteristic with the tell-tale lyric moment threading its way through the chugging dynamism, in momentous counterpoint. It's enjoyable to hear the Rota-suite, three well-loved pieces, not least the love theme from The Godfather and the theme to La Dolce Vita, after which the Eisler - back to Berlin cabaret ethos - comes as something of a stylistic shock, but the saxophones work well, especially in the coiled energy of the concluding march. After which we have the dessert; Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Pink Panther, to close.

The twelve German saxophonists certainly generate a fine corporate sound. Turković and the band have recorded much from the classical repertoire - Dvořák and Shostakovich included - and I can say that I enjoyed much of this fun and engaging disc.

Jonathan Woolf