CDs & RECORDINGS
Convergence: Sopranino Saxophone Music Across the Centuries by Farrell Vernon - Review by Samantha Mason
Convergence is third album of saxophonist Farell Vernon focusing on music for the sopranino saxophone. As one of the highest saxophone voices in the family it is a seldom-exploited sound as far as solo and chamber music recordings go.
The pieces on the album are transcriptions and arrangements featuring Mozart, Bach, Handel, Fauré, and Debussy.The really interesting aspect of the album is its varied of accompaniments using percussion, guitar, saxophones, bass clarinet, harpsichord, and viola de gamba in different types of chamber combinations.
The repertoire choices were cleverly designed to show off the best sides of this obscure instrument with many lyrical and expressive lines in the pieces. The sound of the sopranino is appealing in the baroque transcriptions in particular as the somewhat piercing, yet very dark centered tone blends quite well with the harpsichord. In a way, this could have just as easily been a CD for oboe and I believe that the two instruments – at least the way Vernon plays – have many similarities! Of the whole album the Debussy Épigraphs antiques was a particular highlight for me.
The biggest downside to this CD that I can see is that although Farell Vernon claims to be an advocate for having pieces commissioned for the sopranino saxophone (having seen to the creation of over 60 works for the instrument), yet not one track on this album is a new composition. “…Across the Centuries” is maybe a title that needs to be redrafted! Saying that, the playing is on the whole very masterful. I hope in the future to see more players obtaining and exploiting the flexibility of this weird and wonderful instrument!
This CD is released on the Centaur Label
by AUSTRALIAN CLARINET & SAXOPHONE MAGAZINE - REVIEWS