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American Saxophone - Gould, Ward, Peck / James Houlik

Release Date: 12/03/1996 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7390   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Morton GouldRobert WardRussell Peck
Performer:  James Houlik
Conductor:  Peter PerretGerhardt ZimmermannPaul Anthony McRae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winston Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony OrchestraNorth Carolina Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 53 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Diversions is infused with Gould's typically urbane distillations of American musical slang, and is certainly a major addition to the repertoire.

It's odd to realize that a composer as American in temperament and “crossover“ in practice as was Morton Gould had never contributed anything to the extensive literature existing in this country for the saxophone—that is, until this late work was commissioned and premiered in 1990. In the composer's own words, if not for the “persistence“ of soloist Houlik, these Diversions would probably have never come into being. As is often the case with this composer, the loosely honored, customary concerto format is inventively modified to admit ancillary elements, so that what we
Read more get is a kind of concertante suite in five movements encompassing a wide gamut of moods, mostly of a “diversionary“ nature. (Parenthetically one wonders whether the puckish Gould may not have had additional connotations of the word diverting—as in amiably misdirecting—also in mind.)

The movement headings are delightfully descriptive without being too specific: Recitatives and Preludes; Serenades and Airs; Rags and Waltzes; Ballads and Lovenotes; and Quicksteps and Trios—all of them emitting a generalized, old-fashioned glow. Such a sequence allows for two primarily songful movements to be ensconced within three more energetic frames. The summarizing Finale is somewhat longer and more elaborate than the previous four, and though there are few self-contained cadenzas as such, the nimble soloist is always conspicuously up-front. Reminding this listener a bit of the 1950s Family Album Suite, this work is instinctive with Gould's typically urbane and jocosely sly distillations and displacements of our country's musical slang. It is certainly a major addition to the repertoire, and significantly enough is conceived for the relatively neglected tenor—instead of the alto—saxophone.

The Robert Ward is an affable, almost bland quarter-hour diptych that grows out of his nostalgic lyricism rather than his more noted dramatic strengths. The longer second movement is dominated by a lovely, bluesy tune that the composer claims has haunted him since his service years during World War II.

The full-scale, three-movement, twenty-minute concerto (not too intelligibly subtitled “The Upward Stream“) by Russell Peck (b. 1945) is formally, if not psychologically, the most ambitious work on this program. It manages to generate considerable tension and momentum in its skillful manipulation of the mainstream Eastman-Rochester idiom. Peck is, I believe, either a pupil or associate of Robert Ward, who is the Eastman-Rochester perspective personified.

-- Paul A. Snook, FANFARE [3/1997] Read less

Works on This Recording

Diversions by Morton Gould
Performer:  James Houlik (Tenor Saxophone)
Conductor:  Peter Perret
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winston Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990; USA 
Concerto for Saxophone by Robert Ward
Performer:  James Houlik (Tenor Saxophone)
Conductor:  Gerhardt Zimmermann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  North Carolina Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983; USA 
The Upward Stream by Russell Peck
Performer:  James Houlik (Tenor Saxophone)
Conductor:  Paul Anthony McRae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 American Saxophone April 26, 2013 By daniel c. (Escondido, CA) See All My Reviews "This is a wonderful disc. The mood of the music ranges from hauntingly beautiful to joyfully uplifting. This music should remove any doubt that the saxophone indeed belongs in the symphony orchestra. And these selections should belong in the standard repertoire as well." Report Abuse
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