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Michael Krein: Saxophone Quartet

Release Date: 02/04/2011 
Label:  Saxophone Classics   Catalog #: 4003   Spars Code: DDD 
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A TRIBUTE TO JACK BRYMER Michael Krein Sax Qrt SAXOPHONE 4003 (74:15)   

ALBÉNIZ Suite Espagnole. CHAGRIN Reverie. LANGFORD Con Eleganza. PIERNÉ Chanson d’Autrefois. VINTER Michael’s Read more March. BRUNEAU Gavotte. MACDOWELL In Autumn. DELIBES Madrigale. GROVLEZ Les Petites Litanies de Jesus. DEBUSSY Golliwog’s Cakewalk. FRANÇAIX Petit Quatuor pour Saxophones. MOSZKOWSKI Scherzino. DAKIN Prelude and Dance. TCHAIKOVSKY Humoreske. HAYDN String Quartet, op. 76/3: Minuet. CLÉRISSE Caravane, Introduction and Scherzo. SCHUMANN Whims (Grillen). SCHUDT Capriccioso. MENDELSSOHN Scherzo á Cappriccio. MOZART String Quartet, K 428: Minuet. HARTLEY Midnight Sun. B. GARDNER Dance Gavotte. KREIN Valse Caprice

A Tribute to Jack Brymer by the Michael Krein Saxophone Quartet contains music recorded in the 1970s, some of it by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Krein played clarinet, saxophone, and viola in that company’s London Studio Players during and after World War II. The group was formed by Fred Hartley who, along with Krein, is one of the composers featured on this disc. The players heard here are Jack Brymer, Chester Smith, Gordon Lewin, and Norman Barker. Brymer, who played in both the Royal Philharmonic and BBC Symphony orchestras, plays soprano sax elegantly and directs this excellent ensemble. Smith, a member of the Kit Kat and Ambassador’s Club Bands plays alto sax. Lewin, the Principal Clarinet of George Melachrino’s Orchestra, is heard on tenor sax and Barker, Mantovani’s principal clarinetist, plays the baritone sax. Because much of the music on the CD was written for piano or other instruments, it had to be especially arranged for the saxophone quartet.

Isaac Albéniz’s “Sevilla” is a dance that forms a part of his first Suite Español . The four saxophones capture the Spanish idiom and give a fine rendition of this short piece. Romanian-born and French-educated Francis Chagrin was a friend of Brymer’s who worked at the BBC. He was best known for his many film and television scores and the charming, melodic, Reverie is a sample of his style. Gordon Langford, who worked for the BBC as a pianist, also wrote movie scores and pieces such as Con Eleganza , the short work heard here, for his fellow instrumentalists. The Chanson d’Autrefois by French composer Gabriel Pierné adds a piquant touch to this disc. Bassoonist and conductor Gabriel Vinter wrote a great deal of music for band; the stirring Michael’s March serves to show some of the quartet’s virtuosity. In his Gavotte , Alfred Bruneau surrounds his melody with constantly changing harmony that keeps the listener’s interest.

In Autumn is Krein’s arrangement of a section from Edward Macdowell’s Woodland Sketches . Although Leo Delibes’s opera Lakme and his ballet Coppelia are well known, his choral works are rarely heard; Madrigale is Krein’s arrangement of one of them. Gabriel Grovlez’s Petites Litanies de Jesus is also vocal music. Both of them have a charming simplicity and are played with a smooth legato that makes you wonder if these saxophonists ever had to breathe. The mood changes entirely with the jollity of Debussy’s “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” from The Children’s Corner Suite . Jean Françaix’s Petit Quatuor pour Saxophones is one of the rare pieces actually written for this type of musical group and it requires a great deal of technique, especially from the lower-pitched instruments. There is a 1999 Angel recording of it with the Adelphi Saxophone Quartet, but it is not as technically pristine as this Saxophone Classics version. Moritz Moskowski’s Scherzino is another purloined piano piece, but it has a new life with this lively group of saxophonists. British composer Charles Dakin wrote this delightful Prelude and Dance for the Krein Quartet.

At this point the program turns to some of the better-known composers. Tchaikovsky's Humoresque shows the quartet’s musical humor as well as its technical expertise. The Minuet from Haydn’s C-Major Quartet op. 76/3, The Emperor , simply sings its way into your heart. “Whims” ( Grillen ) is the title of the fourth movement of Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke . It’s a joyful moment, as is Mendelssohn’s bubbly Scherzo á Capriccio . The third movement Minuet from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Eb-Major String Quartet has a sinuous quality to it and the saxophones render it with elegance. French composer Robert Clérisse was a saxophonist and the founder of the Marcel Mule Quartet. His Caravane captures the Orientalism of his time, while his Introduction and Scherzo shows us his humorous side. Another whimsical piece is the Capriccioso by a little-known Victorian composer, Schudt (no first name provided), in which the quartet can show its beautiful interpretation of this catchy tune. With Fred Hartley’s Midnight Sun , a tribute to Edvard Grieg, the quartet plays some bouncy folk songs. Balfour Gardiner, the great uncle of John Eliot Gardiner, wrote a slightly more restrained, but nonetheless charming dance for his Victorian audience. The finale is Michael Krein’s Valse Caprice . It leaves the listener dreaming of an earlier time with waltzing couples gliding across the floor. This recording provides good material for dreaming of bygone days. The sound is quite good considering the age of the original recordings, and I recommend it to anyone who likes the sound of the saxophone.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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