Impressions for Saxophone and Orchestra

Impressions for Saxophone and Orchestra

by Theodore Kerkezos
     
 
The Hong Kong-based Naxos label has been showing that there's nothing wrong with the classical music scene that innovative releases featuring unusual repertory can't cure. This disc seems to inaugurate a new series with its "Greek Classics" title. The combination of Greek origin and saxophone-and-orchestra instrumentation might seem impossibly arcane, at least to

Overview

The Hong Kong-based Naxos label has been showing that there's nothing wrong with the classical music scene that innovative releases featuring unusual repertory can't cure. This disc seems to inaugurate a new series with its "Greek Classics" title. The combination of Greek origin and saxophone-and-orchestra instrumentation might seem impossibly arcane, at least to non-Greeks, and the buyer will discover to boot that the works by the two best-known composers included, Mikis Theodorakis and Nikolaos Skalkottas, were transcribed for saxophone, not originally written for it. Still and all, this is an absorbing program featuring characteristically Greek takes on a variety of contemporary compositional principles. The Theodorakis "Cretan Concertino" is based on a variety of mostly pastoral sounds heard on the vacationland island of Crete. Some of the saxophone's lines sound influenced by Arabic music, and the use of a saxophone in place of the original violin may help bring out this aspect. The work is full of rhythmic vigor. The Skalkottas "Concertino," written originally for oboe and piano, has an attractive slow movement that expresses the advertised "Pastorale" mood even as it displays the composer's dense harmonies. Most interesting perhaps are the works by lesser-known Greek composers that fill out the disc; all of these are bona fide saxophone pieces. Theodor Antoniou's "Concerto piccolo" combines a structural use of saxophone cadenzas with dance rhythms in open intervals, resulting in a primitivist sound that avoids reference to Stravinsky or anyone else. The "Phrygian Litany" of Minas Alexiadis shows the influence of Arvo Pärt. The "Rhapsody of Pontos" by Vassilis Tenidis is another folk-influenced piece, perhaps one of those works that depends on the trick of making the instruments of the orchestra sound like folk instruments, but never dull. Most intriguing of all is the "Mr. Knoll" movement from a work called "Gioconda's Smile" by Manos Hadjidakis, who wrote the score for the film Never on Sunday. This might sound like a section of lounge-jazzy film music were it not for the innovative juxtaposition of harpsichord and bouzouki in the scoring. A program ("if the songs had lyrics, they would be approximately like this") is provided by the composer: "The theme is a solitary woman in the big city....'On my way out, a blond youth approached me. Everyone around us vanished and we were left by ourselves, the two of us, with him staring at me half sadly, half ironically. He said to me: "I'm a case of a Young Man who would like to meet you." I answered that I was all alone and wasn't ready to receive him. And I wanted very much to, but didn't dare. He smiled at me, and said, "What a pity!" and placed his visiting card in my hands. But by the time I saw what was on it, he'd vanished. The visiting card had only two words printed on it: Knoll, Death.'" Saxophonist Theodore Kerkezos does a fine job with the variety of idioms, and the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra shows itself to be an impressively smooth regional ensemble.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/21/2006
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313299225
catalogNumber:
8557992
Rank:
238697

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Cretan Concertino, for alto saxophone & orchestra
  2. Adagio for solo flute, string orchestra & percussion
  3. Concertino for solo oboe & piano
  4. Concerto Piccolo, for alto saxophone & orchestra
  5. Phrygian Litany, for soprano saxophone & orchestra
  6. Rhapsody of Pontos, for alto saxophone & orchestra
  7. Gioconda's Smile, for alto saxophone & orchestra, Op. 22: 7. Mr. Knoll

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