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Fanfare, May 2005

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Paul Shoemaker
MusicWeb International, December 2004

"Most of the pieces in this collection of orchestral saxophone music are really interesting and very well performed. I had never heard the Tomasi before and found it delightful. The Martin is one of those works where the composer experimented with tone rows in one voice, tonally fleshed out in the others. It is characteristic and intriguing if not his greatest music. The Ravel piece was produced in versions for various instruments; I actually know it mostly from the flute and guitar transcription, but this one works equally well, although the soloist does not use glissandos to bring out the ethnic flavour of the music. The Ballade is soulful but brief, and the brilliant Czárdás is a real rouser with a stunning saxophone cadenza, and the orchestra joining in in a final shouted "Hey!"

I thought the Piazolla was played rather matter-of-factly with little verve or lift or sense of idiom. The "fuga" movement is irritating, almost cacophonic, although the soloist deals heroically with his difficult part. The "Misterio" movement is anything but. The "Fugata" is slightly more successful, and the lovely "Oblivión" almost works but could still use a little more sense of weary nostalgia. "Adios Nonino" is partly a reprise of the "Preludio" with a locomotive introduction and comes off best of the set; here the soloist produces a nice glissando which he should have also used in the Ravel. "Libertango" comes off more as an exercise in syncopation than a sinuous dance. Whether the fault is that of the composer, arranger, orchestra or conductor, I don’t think it’s the soloist. In fact Kerkezos does a splendid job with the complex phrasing and produces a controlled, beautiful tone throughout the extended range.

In case you were looking for the Debussy Rhapsody, that is on a previous disk in this series, #8.557063. This disk might have been labelled "Volume II."

The recording location is printed on the label, but the phototypesetter overprinted the lettering making it illegible. Naxos is spending a lot more money these days on attractive cover art but apparently not on proof-readers."

Rob Barnett
, July 2004

"Here we have three ballades, a habanera, a tango suite and a czardas; a case of 'song and dance'. This makes for a well chosen, contrasted and unusual selection. Such a pity that the Holbrooke saxophone concerto (circa 1927) does not appear. It would have fitted well with the 'song and dance' theme... Wide-ranging moods from the mercurial mastery of the Tomasi to the songful Dragatakis to the exuberant Czardas and the predominantly Protestant sobriety of Martin to the tango world of Piazzolla. Very attractive."

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