Celebrating the birth of the saxophone

Last Saturday Leighton Buzzard Music Club hosted another in their excellent series of classical concerts by upcoming musicians with Anthony Brown playing saxophone accompanied by Leo Nicholson playing piano. Readers may remember Leo Nicholson visited Leighton last year with flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg, which was a delightful concert. This time he accompanied a different performer, again to captivating effect.

Not much music is (even now) written for the saxophone, so Mr Brown has to seek repertoire, which leads him down less trodden footpaths of music creation. This truffling produced a concert which was an engaging and eclectic mixture of short pieces, mainly French and English and mainly twentieth century.

In order, we enjoyed: ‘Michelangelo ‘70’ by Astor Piazzolla (arr. Brown), this had a Big Band feel, edgy and plummy by turns on the sax; ‘And everything is still … ’ (2010) by Andy Scott, a simple air returning in increasingly energetic and decorated variations;  ‘Three Preludes’ (1926) by George Gershwin, quintessentially Jazz Age; ‘Histoires’ (1922) by Jacques Ibert; ‘Gentle dreams’ (1987) by Dave Heath, a lullaby with hints of a Celtic feel and of Coltrane; ‘Tableaux de Provence’ (1948-55) by Paule Maurice, a piece written for the saxophone included to celebrate Adolphe Sax’s centenary; ‘Two elegies framing a shout’ (1994) by Mark-Anthony Turnage, angular, with a little dirty sax; ‘Glass’ (1998) by Graham Fitkin, the sax runs a gentle melody around the the piano; ‘Fantasie Op 89’ (1863) by Jean-Baptiste Singelée, cadenzas and trills galore; ‘After the tryst’ (1995) by James MacMillan, full of sea birds crying and winds soughing;  ‘Scaramouche’ (1937) by Darius Milhaud, opera bouffe and great fun; finally ‘Le lievre et la tortue’ (1957) by Pierre-Max Dubois; as encore they let rip with a little more Gershwin – ‘I got rhythm’.

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