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Quintessence Goes Christmas / Quintessence Saxophone Quartet


Release Date: 10/21/2003 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 999917-2   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  TraditionalTomaso AlbinoniPeter Ilyich TchaikovskyGeorge Frideric Handel,   ... 
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone QuintetNew London Children's Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Following its "renovation" of Beethoven, Quintessence Saxophone Quintet takes on Christmas, and most tradition-loving listeners may wish this adventurous (some would say irreverent) ensemble had left this one alone. Whether you call it reinterpretation, modernizing, jazzifying, or just having fun with some classics--including Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Overture, Handel's Hallelujah! chorus, and Bach's Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme--it's safe to say you've never heard favorite Christmas pieces arranged and played like this. While the essence of each original work is maintained, the five saxophonists (soprano, alto, two tenors, and baritone) go off on many wild journeys, harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic. The group's general approach Read more seems to be, crank up the tempo (even of Albinoni's famous but decedidly non-Christmas Adagio), emphasize the rhythm's accents, and see how many ways you can twist a tune and shuffle a harmony--and don't forget to foil listeners' expectations as often as possible. While everyone may not fall in love with the result, you have to admit that it does get you to listen.


Best of all is Vaughan Williams' Christmas Dance (from his Suite for Viola and Orchestra), whose lively, shifting rhythmic character lends itself especially well to the quintet's style and to the jazz-flavored sound of their instruments. The playing is unfailingly virtuosic, the blend and balance among the five saxophones is ideal, thanks in part to the vibrant, clear engineering, and the arrangements are, well, unique. I'm just not sure I'm ready to hear a soprano sax (or alto, for that matter) wail a bluesy take on Bach's Jesu, Joy of man's desiring, or hear Handel's Hallelujah reduced to a pop-and-bop number--but I must admit that I found the Bernsteinian opening to Vom Himmel hoch kinda cool. There are some very nice full-bodied chorale passages in Wachet auf--and the final track is one of the more toe-tapping, smile-inducing renditions of We wish you a merry Christmas you'll ever encounter. [12/20/2003]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
We wish you a merry Christmas by Traditional
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Written: England 
Notes: Arranged: Hartmut Salzmann 
2.
Adagio for Organ and Strings in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Notes: Arranged: Uli Lettermann
This work was reconstructed by Remo Giazotto in 1945 from a fragment by Albinoni. 
3.
Nutcracker, Op. 71: no 1a, Act 1 - Miniature Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ronald Corp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet,  New London Children's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
Notes: Arranged: Uli Lettermann 
4.
Messiah, HWV 56: Hallelujah! by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1742; London, England 
Notes: Arranged: Uli Lettermann 
5.
Groove All Ye Faithful by Uli Lettermann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: This selection is based on "Adeste Fideles" by John Francis Wade. 
6.
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Arranged: Hartmut Salzmann 
7.
Chorale Preludes (6) BWV 645-650 "Schübler": no 1, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1748-1749; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Arranged: Uli Lettermann 
8.
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
9.
Festgesang "Hark! The herald angels sing" by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Notes: Arranged: Hartmut Salzmann 
10.
Suite for Viola and Chamber Orchestra: 3rd movement, Christmas Dance by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; England 
Notes: Arranged: Uli Lettermann 
11.
Christmas in Hollywood by Uli Lettermann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 

Sound Samples

The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a: The Nutcracker, Suite Op. 71a: I. Miniature Overture (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Messiah, HWV 56 (arr. for saxophone quintet): Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Hallelujah Chorus (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Groove all ye faithful, "Adeste Fideles" (O Come All Ye Faithful) (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Sonata a 3 in G minor, Op. 6 (arr. for saxophone quintet): Sonata a tre in G minor, Op. 6: II. Adagio (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Suite for Viola: and Small Orchestra: III. Christmas Dance (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (arr. for saxophone)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, Part I: Chorale: Ach, mein herzliebes Jesulein! (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Hark! the herald angels sing (arr. for saxophone quintet): Hark the Herald Angels Sing (arr. for saxophone quintet)
Christmas in Hollywood (arr. for saxophone quintet)
We Wish You A Merry Christmas (arr. for saxophone quintet)

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