One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Christian LAUBA (b.1952)
Salsa (2012)* [4:29]
George APERGHIS (b.1945)
Rasch (2001) [7:29]
Christian LAUBA
Balafon (1992) [6:31]
François ROSSÉ (b.1945)
XIMIX (1997) [2:21]
Etienne ROLIN (b.1952)
Vous, Blue Look! (1993) [5:07]
Christian LAUBA
Tãdj (1994) [9:42]
Hiroyuki ITOH (b.1963)
The Angel of Despair II (1999) [11:16]
Christian LAUBA
Ars (1994) [4:36]
Hayden CHISHOLM (b.1975)
Wind Over the Plains (2014)
Koryun Asatryan (saxophone, duduk)
Karola Pavone (soprano), Eva Barthas (saxophone), Gareth Lubbe (viola/voice)
*world première recordings
rec. Sendesaal Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Cologne, Germany, 2014
GENUIN GEN14301 [59:45]

This fascinating disc is as much a showcase for the composers and the saxophone as it is for the indisputable talents of Koryun Asatryan.

This thirty year old Armenian was an award-winner at the 2012 German Music Competition which arranges recordings on ‘Primavera Edition’ debut CDs. The aim of the competition throughout its existence (since 1975) has been to provide a launch-pad for up-and-coming musicians in a wide variety of instrumental categories. Indeed they vary from year to year, presumably to ensure that a surfeit of violinists or pianists do not preclude the emergence of talented players of less popular instruments.

Despite being invented by Adolphe Sax whose birth bi-centenary fell on 6 November 2014, the saxophone has never truly found its place in classical music repertory. It really was ‘made’ for jazz. It’s not that there haven’t been classical works written for the instrument but clearly most composers don’t feel it has the classical voice for them. This disc certainly demonstrates that there is a lot that can be said by the saxophone which composers here have made shout, sing, serenade, moan and cry. These contemporary composers have also shown how well they know the saxophone. They have set it some highly complex musical tasks which Asatryan shows he is well able to meet and solve.

The first two works are really challenging with the soloist being required to use a whole array of techniques from growling into the mouthpiece to using the tongue as a valve producing short staccato sounds. Christian Lauba’s Salsa is a riotous celebration of that Latin-American dance form. The second piece has a viola as accompanist which serves to emphasise the above-mentioned techniques. The third is more rhapsodic with some lovely flowing lines until the closing couple of minutes. The fourth work XIMIX by François Rossé has a second saxophone played by Eva Barthas joining in. They sound like two characters circling each other. Etienne Rolin’s Vous, Blue Look! features soprano Karola Pavone as another instrument providing a soft contrast to the often more abrasive sax. Christian Lauba, whose works appear four times here, was born in Tunisia. His piece Tãdj recalls this Arab background and calls for some amazingly virtuosic playing.

Japanese composer Hiroyuki Itoh’s piece, The Angel of Despair was a commission and at over eleven minutes is the longest piece on the disc. Harsh and abrasive sounds coexist alongside moments of almost transcendental lyricism. Christian Lauba’s Ars sees the return of fellow saxophonist Eva Barthas and has an almost medieval sound at its start before rejoining the contemporary world. The disc closes with a piece by New Zealand composer and saxophonist Hayden Chisholm. This has Gareth Lubbe’s viola return as accompanist for Wind Over the Plains. This most ethereal work, to me, evokes a barren Mongolian desert. Just as that thought came to me it was corroborated by Gareth Lubbe’s ‘throat singing’ alongside Asatryan playing the Armenian duduk. This closes the work sounding like the very breath of the wind that figures in its title.

We hear contemporary works much less often than we should considering the sheer amount of music that is being written on a daily basis. It is refreshing that a musician like Koryun Asatryan chose to feature all contemporary works on this disc. He could easily gone for a mix of late nineteenth and early twentieth century works alongside newer ones. It was also a brave move to concentrate on works by little known composers. In doing so Asatryan has shown his independence of thought and has done great service to these composers who, on the strength of the music here, deserve to be better known.

Since starting this review I have discovered that Asatryan also released a disc on Hänssler in 2005 entitled Saxophone Caprices.

This player's artistry is left in no doubt. He is a formidable force on the saxophone, an instrument he has made his own but which he claims is not even his favourite. He is more than ably accompanied by the three other musicians here. This disc is a truly ear-catching debut for an exciting young player of exceptional talent.

Steve Arloff