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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


Quintessence Saxophone Quintet

Moving Mozart

CPO multichannel SACD 777 134-2, [55:14]


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) (ARRANGED)
1. 25 plus [Symphony No. 25 KV183] (4’43")
2. Rondo alla turca a little bit blue [KV331] (3’53")
3. The Magic Sax [KV620] (7’07")
4. Dies Irae [from Requiem KV626] (4’20")
5. Adagio for English Horn and String trio [KV580a] (5’38")
6. Figaro’s Scheidung [KV492] (5’14")
7. Ave Verum Corpus [KV618] (4’42")
8. Fugue for two pianos [KV426] (4’07")
9. Symhonie 40, 1st movement [KV550] (5’49")
10. Laudate Dominum [KV339, 5] (4’32")
11. Eine kleine Nachtmusik Rondo [KV525] (5’06")
Arrangements by Uli Lettermann (except 2 & 11 by Harlmut Salzmann)

Quintessence Saxophone Quintet:
Uli Lettermann, soprano sax
Hartmut Salzmann, alto sax
Tom Gostenmeier, tenor sax(1,2,7,8,10,11)
Anatole Gomersall, tenor sax (3,4,5,6,9)
Andreas Menzel, tenor sax
Bernd Stich, baritone sax

Recorded at Schloss Nordkirchen, Oranienburg, January 14 & 15, April 30-May 1, 2005.

I think to get an idea of the general mood of this CD we need to look at the inside booklet and see the photos of this cheerful combo and in the individual pictures they are all wearing Mozart wigs! This is definitely a fun record and those sensitive to Jazzed up Classics better leave this one alone. Personally I don’t mind changing pieces so long as it works; sadly for me this well played and recorded disc doesn’t.
We start off with the first movement of Symphony No.25 which was used at the start of "Amadeus". The first time I played the CD I found it jarring but in the right (late night) mood it might be fun but I’d much rather hear the original or real jazz. The piano" rondo alla turca" is given a bluesy treatment which is OK but I think I know the piece too well and find it very inappropriate. It starts off quite cheerfully but then goes all haywire after a minute for no real rhyme or reason!
In the overture "Magic Flute" they sound off key at times and what is a spine chilling piece is really not that thrilling.
I think that the arrangements are similar to that used for Bach or Debussy which were well worked by Jacques Loussier but I don’t personally think works for Mozart. It seems fine to play around with "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" which cheerfully ends this disc but I don’t think you can do the same with "Ave Verum Corpus". As for the piece from the "Requiem" I thought it naïf but I suppose if you don’t know the original you might quite like it!
This is an SACD and I think as a demonstration record (I played it on a good stereo system-Cambridge CD player) it works reasonably well and it could be good for parties or in the car. For lovers of the saxophone rather than Mozart is my verdict; technically fine but generally musically misguided. I do hope that some people out there like it!

David R Dunsmore


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