AngloSax – British and American Music for Saxophone
Following the 1999 success of ‘Chamber Sax’, which received five-star ratings for both performance and sound from the BBC Music Magazine, the eminent Saxophone player Kyle Horch presents his second recording for the label. Alongside his long-time duo partner, the pianist Pamela Lidiard, who together have recorded a recital programme which represents the cornestones of 20th century repertoire.
A wonderful collection of highly attractive music performed by an established duo – this disc deserves wide circulation.
- Elliott Carter Pastoral
- Michael Berkeley Keening
- Vaughan Williams Six Studies in English Folksong
- Ned Rorem Picnic on the Marne
- Rodney Rogers Lessons of the Sky
- Evan Chambers Come Down Heavy
Kyle Horch, Saxophone Pamela Lidiard, Piano
“A carefully chosen programme with illuminating cross-references… highly accomplished playing from Kyle Horch, with strong support from pianist Pamela Lidiard.”
London Evening Standard
“Kyle Horch is an American living in London, having studied with Fred Hemke at Northwestern University before crossing the Atlantic to seek fame and fortune. I can’t speak to the latter, but the former is surely on its way, as this young man has a world of talent that is bound to spread his name far beyond the confines of the Royal College of Music, where he currently teaches.
The Six Studies are no stranger to records. They were originally composed for cello and piano, and then scored for a multitude of other instruments. They work as well on alto saxophone as anything, lacking only the rich resonance we are used to from the stringed instrument. But it is interesting to hear this bastion of English folksong assailed by an “American” instrument. It works very well, proving the adaptability of the saxophone to even the most exotic of settings. British folksong has to be the last thing you expect a saxophone to be playing.
Michael Berkeley is no stranger to the pages of ARG. His Keening proves one of the most challenging works on the program. A keen is a loud, wailing lament for the dead specific to Irish culture, reliably non-liturgical in nature. There are many bent notes and slow portamentos, coupled with shrieks and howls. All of these devices are used with the utmost taste and discretion, forming a dramatic entity that paints a miniature tone poem of grieving. This is an important and powerful work, reminding me several times of Karel Husa’s more famous Elegie et Rondeau, also for saxophone and piano.
The rest of the program is Americans–and what a treat it is. Lessons of the Sky, a 1985 work by Rodney Rogers, is the mirror opposite of Keening. It is joyful–almost uninhibitedly so in its minimalist accompaniment–and its exuberance is matched only by its reflective slow portion. This is one of the most delicious contemporary works I have heard–for any instrument.
The Carter is from 1940, and is the Copland-Carter of his early years, not the originator of often-indecipherable esoterica that we all know from the last 30 years. This is a truly beautiful work, and it reminds me of Creston more than anyone else.
Everyone knows Ned Rorem, and I doubt whether there has ever been a more stylistically consistent American composer. His Picnic on the Marme: Seven Waltzes is a picturesque suite depicting ‘Driving from Paris’, ‘A Bend in the River’, ‘Bal Musette’, ‘Vermouth’, ‘A Tense Discussion’, ‘Making Up’, and ‘The Ride Back to Town’. Quite a day it must have been back in 1956. The music is descriptive, witty, urbane, and melodious. No matter what combination of instruments he attempts, the success rate is inevitably high.
Come Down Heavy by Evan Chambers adds a violin to the mix and presents American folk song in a rather different guise. The songs are revamped to emphasize what they normally perhaps only hint at: pathos, sorrow, poignancy, and joy. But Chambers stylizes them, and seeks to draw out from them their innermost essences and expose them to us for all of their raw power. It is a highly effective work, tightly constructed and hauntingly beautiful.
The sound here is a marvel–perfectly balanced and true to all the instrumental timbres. Pianist Pamela Lidiard is half responsible for the success of the presentation, playing with charm and technical aplomb. This is a stunning album.”
American Record Guide 2004
Playing Time: 71 mins.