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Soul Mates / Duo ST15

Maurice / Milhaud / Cordero / Estoppey
Release Date: 07/10/2012 
Label:  Claves   Catalog #: 1111  
Composer:  Paule MauricePiotr Grella-MozejkoCaroline CharričreVictor Cordero,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 53 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SOUL MATES Duo ST15 CLAVES 1111 (53:10)

MAURICE Tableaux de Provence. GRELLA-MOZEJKO Moon Down. Numen. CHARRIÈRE Miniature . Tranquillo-Agitato. CORDERO Soul Mate. MILHAUD Scaramouche Read more />

Strange title, enigmatic cover photo with impassive and detached performers gazing out in different directions, and a name for the ensemble that suggests an electronic device or a jet plane. From first impression, it is hard to know what to expect from this pair of Swiss musicians. As it turns out that this is a classy saxophone/piano duo, playing a couple of old favorites with an engaging freshness and introducing a selection of new music that is challenging and substantive.

Paule Maurice’s Tableaux de Provence and Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche bookend this release. These lighthearted works are among the most characterful for the saxophone, each quintessentially French in character, the former a musical tour of the southeast of France and the latter a portrait of the Paris children’s Théâtre Scaramouche and a remembrance of a production of Moliérè’s Le Médecin volant . Both will be well known to collectors of recordings of this instrument, though they would be hard-pressed to find more agreeable performances than these.

Five avant-garde works form the program between: compositions by Canadian Piotr Grella-Mozejko, fellow Switzer Caroline Charrière, and Catalan composer Victor Cordero, all written for and/or premiered by Duo ST15. Soul Mate (2008) by Cordero supplies the album title and occupies the center of a symmetrical recital plan. Described as “a dialog where each has something to say without imposing on the other,” it is improvisatory in effect: aggressive and unpredictable, with the two instruments taking turns setting the musical direction of the work. On either side of the Cordero are the rather madcap works of Charrière: Miniature (2004), a song without words with a strong jazz undertow that develops an attitude at the end, and Tranquillo-Agitato (2007), which starts out like a Satie Gymnopédie , and ends up a wild ride on shifting meters. Before and after these are the two Grella-Mozejko pieces: the four-movement Moon Down (2002) with its brooding descent from the mysterious to the quiescent, and Numen (1998), where the resident spirit is reflective, understated, and given to occasional howls of pain.

Saxophonist Laurent Estoppey may not have the most seductive tone I have ever heard; he can even be a bit brassy and edgy, as in the Milhaud “Brazileira.” But the sound is flexible, the vibrato well regulated, and the playing is virtuoso: alert, flexible, subtle, and supremely responsive. Pianist Virginie Falquet is the perfect performing partner: equal parts imagination, clairvoyance, and impressive technique. They have performed as a duo since 2005, though as far as I can tell this is their first recording. It is an auspicious start. My only wish is that there had been fewer photos of the pair—attractive though they be—on various staircases and more notes on the unfamiliar works and composers. It is a small complaint, though, in a release that has brought much pleasure.

FANFARE: Ronald E. Grames
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Works on This Recording

Tableaux de Provence by Paule Maurice
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954-1959; France 
Moon Down by Piotr Grella-Mozejko
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Written: 2002 
Numen by Piotr Grella-Mozejko
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; Canada 
Miniature by Caroline Charričre
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Written: 2004 
Tranquillo-Agitato by Caroline Charričre
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Written: 2007 
Soul Mate by Victor Cordero
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Written: 2008 
Scaramouche, Op. 165b by Darius Milhaud
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo St15
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 

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