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Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Aragón from Suite Espańola, Op.47 (1886) arr. Peter Vigh [4:22]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
In the Village (1880) arr. Peter Vigh [4:20]
Children’s Games (1858) arr. Peter Vigh [2:51]
Scherzo (1858) arr. Peter Vigh [4:14]
György LIGETI (1923-2006)
Six Bagatelles (1951-53 arr. wind quintet Guillaume Bourgogne 1953) [10:58]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Wedding at Troldhaugen; from Lyric Pieces, Op.65 (1886) arr. Peter Vigh [6:05]
Puck, from Lyric Pieces, Op.71 arr. Peter Vigh [1:57]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Milonga del Angel (1965) arr. Johan van der Linden [6:41]
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937)
Introduction et variations sur une ronde populaire [8:22]
Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942)
Cinq études de Jazz, Op.58 arr. Peter Vigh; Charleston [1:12]: Blues [2:49]
Ferenc FARKAS (1905-2000)
Old Hungarian Dances from the Seventeenth Century (1959) [6:17]
Berlage Saxophone Quartet
rec. September 2013, Konzerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster

There’s some force in the modish title of this disc, a kind of compound noun that suggests folkloric music played on the saxophone. I wouldn’t push it too far, given that much of the music is not necessarily much to do with folk roots at all. The performers are the four young members of the Berlage Saxophone Quartet, formed in Amsterdam in 2008.
What does link the pieces is certainly that most were originally conceived for the piano. Many have been arranged by Peter Vigh whose consistency of approach and imaginative ear for colour and density of sonority is a pleasure throughout. Those qualities are particularly evident as early as the jota evoked in Albéniz’s Aragón but the more athletic side of the saxophone quartet – soprano, alto, tenor and baritone – is to be heard in the three Mussorgsky piano pieces arranged by Vigh. The chorale at the heart of In the Village is contrasted with the frolicsome material from the outer sections whilst there’s a similar care to transcribe the urgent and more deftly lyrical moments of the Scherzo. Ligeti’s Bagatelles were written between 1951 and 1953, and it was Guillaume Bourgogne who, with the composer’s agreement, arranged them for wind quintet. This saxophonic translation works quite well, as the music is full of fun and vitality and dance rhythms as well as plumbing depths in a dark lament, and paying homage to Bartók in a terse, unsettled in memoriam movement.
Perhaps there’s a slight blunting in this arrangement of the joyful festivities of Grieg’s Wedding at Troldhaugen but the Piazzolla responds well to the saxophone quartet. Gabriel Pierné’s Introduction et variations sur une ronde populaire is a series of variations on a round dance composed for the saxophone quartet established by that great pioneer, Marcel Mule. Moving seamlessly from misty evocation to full-on terpsichorean vitality, this is a work that is genuinely written for the sax quartet and sounds thoroughly delightful in this performance. Erwin Schulhoff wrote for the saxophone, of course, given the milieu he evoked with Dance music and jazz – his Alto Saxophone sonata (the Hot Sonate) is quite well known. But both pieces from his Cinq études de Jazz, Op.58 and again arranged by Peter Vigh were written for the piano. They sound suitably peppy here. Finally we hear Ferenc Farkas’ 1959 Old Hungarian Dances from the Seventeenth Century. The Hungarian composer studied with Respighi and was active in the collection of folk songs in his native country. The four brief antique dances are genial and attractive, and it was bold of the quartet to programme them last. Putting them first would have been the obvious thing to do.
This wide-ranging hour-long programme has been recorded in splendid SACD sound.
Jonathan Woolf