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Under The Sign Of The Sun - Ravel, Etc / C. Delangle, Et Al

Release Date: 05/29/2007 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1357   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jacques IbertMaurice RavelPaule MauriceFlorent Schmitt,   ... 
Performer:  Claude Delangle
Conductor:  Lan Shui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

UNDER THE SIGN OF THE SUN Claude Delangle (sax); Lan Shui, cond; Singapore SO BIS 1357 (73:49)

IBERT Concertino da camera. TOMASI Alto Saxophone Concerto. RAVEL Pavane pour une infante défunte. MAURICE Tableaux de Provence. SCHMITT Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Legend. MILHAUD Scaramouche

I always look forward to any new album by Claude Delangle. The classical saxophone is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance these days, and what once posed difficulties for even the best of players (like the dreaded altissimo register) are now being tossed off like yesterday’s Rite of Spring . I guess that after the tumultuous 1900s, musicians everywhere have made a quantum leap, and the technical hurdles of the past are simply being dismissed as “all part of the job.” Delangle is one of the best of the new breed, and there simply aren’t any challenges that he can’t negotiate.

This excellent concept album focuses on music composed around the shores of the Mediterranean, or perhaps extends the concept of where the Mediterranean is, but keeps to the spirit of light, color, joy, and open possibilities. Jacques Ibert (1890–1962) is the opening batter here, and quite appropriately, as his Concertino da Camera long ago established it as one of the premier saxophone works that is de rigueur for any player wishing to prove his or her chops in the professional world. Airy, technically a devil, and redolent of many different Baroque devices, the work smacks us in the face with sunshine from the opening bars. Delangle shows no fear of this work at all, and turns in a fine reading that is, if anything, almost a little too cavalier in its insouciance, as if he is just getting warmed up, so now bring on the real music. This doesn’t efface memories of the Eugene Rousseau album on DG from the early 1970s, but it is a convincing reading.

The Corsican Henri Tomasi (1901–72) can always be relied upon to turn out some entertaining and well-crafted music, and has done so for many different instruments and combinations. This concerto, dedicated to the great French player Marcel Mule, is more of a work with the saxophone as obbligato instead of front-line soloist. This is due in no small part to the brilliance and clever scoring of the composer’s orchestration. The first movement is an ostinato, almost Bolero -like piece that shimmers in it repetition, and provides an impressionistic atmosphere that the saxophone uses to dart to and fro, in and out of the many shadows and patterns of light. The second movement comes out fully into the open, and invokes the spirit of jazz and some of its classical imitators like Kurt Weill before coming to a crazed swirl of an ending. The piece is not as convincing as say, the same composer’s Trumpet Concerto, but is a fine effort.

Arrangement time, as we embark on yet another Pavane for a Dead Princess . This piece has been done to death (pardon the pun) in so many ways that I am almost without words to describe it. Delangle switches to soprano sax for this one, and to be honest, if I was just casually listening to this I am not sure I would have even noticed it wasn’t the original, so close is the arrangement. This might raise the question as to why even do it if that is the case, but Delangle’s fine sound should answer that question.

The five-movement suite Tableaux de Provence by Paule Maurice (1910–67) is one of the highlights on this disc. Maurice sets each of the descriptive titles to some apropos and evocative music that makes use of his rich talents as an orchestral master, and takes us through five contrasting pieces that are like a tour de force through the southern Mediterranean. This Mule dedication is a travelogue that shows us the “Farandole of the Young Girls,” sings a “Song of My Sweetheart,” indulges in some native wildness with the arrival of the “Gypsy Woman,” presents us in awed wonder at the Gallo-Roman tombs at the gates of Arles known as the “Alyscamps,” and has us chased by the “Lou Cabridan,” the great buzzing bee of the area. A splendid romp.

Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) traveled all over the Mediterranean and produced this Légende for alto saxophone that employs two distinct themes that recapitulate at the end before joining the coda. Though the work is only about 12 minutes long, it acts in a much more brazen and imperious manner. Exotic, oriental, and mysteriously seductive, the saxophone plays like a floating ghost, weaving in and out of the many harmonic nuances Schmitt creates, trilling, indulging in arpeggios, and soaring high above the orchestra. This is a very colorful piece and quite satisfying.

Darius Milhaud’s Mediterranean stretched from “Constantinople to Rio de Janeiro.” His carnival-like Scaramouche from 1939 lends itself not so much to Venice and the commedia dell’arte , but to Brazil and the many South American dances found there. This work is not at all unlike his more popular pieces, such as The Bull on the Roof or The Creation of the World , and melodically it easily holds its own with anything he ever wrote. Delangle indulges himself here, and gives us an effective, robustly lyrical account that makes for a fine and fitting conclusion to this excellent recital.

I shouldn’t have to mention that BIS gives him superb sound, and the Singapore Symphony and their conductor Lan Shui sound like they are summering in the south of France.

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

Concertino da camera by Jacques Ibert
Performer:  Claude Delangle (Saxophone)
Conductor:  Lan Shui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Claude Delangle (Saxophone)
Conductor:  Lan Shui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Tableaux de Provence by Paule Maurice
Performer:  Claude Delangle (Saxophone)
Conductor:  Lan Shui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954-1959; France 
Légende, Op. 66 by Florent Schmitt
Performer:  Claude Delangle (Saxophone)
Conductor:  Lan Shui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; France 
Scaramouche for Saxophone and Orchestra, Op. 165c by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Claude Delangle (Saxophone)
Conductor:  Lan Shui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 

Sound Samples

Concertino da camera: I. Allegro con moto
Concertino da camera: II. Larghetto, poi animato molto
Saxophone Concerto: I. Andante - Allegro
Saxophone Concerto: II. Giration: Allegro
Pavane pour une infante defunte (arr. for soprano saxophone and orchestra): Pavane pour une infante defunte (arr. T. Nodaira for soprano saxophone and orchestra)
Tableaux de Provence: I. Farandoulo di Chatouno
Tableaux de Provence: II. Cansoun per ma mio
Tableaux de Provence: III. La Boumanio
Tableaux de Provence: IV. Dis Alyscamps, l'amo souspire
Tableaux de Provence: V. Lou Cabridan
Legende, Op. 66
Scaramouche, Op. 165c: I. Vif
Scaramouche, Op. 165c: II. Modere
Scaramouche, Op. 165c: III. Brazileira

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