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Saxophone Concerti
Lars-Erik Larsson, Alexander Glazunov, Jorma Panula
Saxophone Concerti
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Lars-Erik Larsson, Alexander Glazunov, Jorma Panula, New Stockholm Chamber Orchestra
Title: Saxophone Concerti
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Bis
Release Date: 3/25/1994
Album Type: Import
Genre: Classical
Styles: Forms & Genres, Concertos, Instruments, Reeds & Winds
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 750582006821, 7318590002186

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CD Reviews

Savijoki & Larsson
Ralphus | Goyang, Gynggi-Do Korea (South) | 01/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Back in the days of LPs, this album and another by Pekka Savijoki, "The French Saxophone" (BisCD-209) [and a third, "The Virtuoso Saxophone" (LP-159) which is no longer available--some of this last album has been added to "The French Saxophone", and the Creston "Sonata" appears on another Bis CD called "The Contemporary American 'C'"] were among a very few easily available recordings of classical saxophone music.

Listening to it again after all these years, I am surprised by how much I still like his performance of the Glazunov "Concerto". Savijoki's sound is rich, dark and warm. Musically, he gets it about right. His tempos are judicious and he brings out Glazunov's inherent Romanticism. It remains one of my very favorite interpretations of the work.

The 'filler' piece is "Adagio and Allegro" (originally for viola and piano) by the conductor on this recording, Jorma Panula. I've never heard or heard of this piece performed/recorded elsewhere. It is pretty much how I vaguely remembered it: inconsequential but nice enough.

The other major work is the "Concerto for Saxophone and Strings" by Lars-Erik Larsson. Saxophonists will know that this is a fiendishly difficult piece, filled as it is with passages of extreme altissimo written to cater for its dedicatee, Sigurd Rascher. It is here that Pekka Savijoki's troubles begin and end. Musically, he plays the piece very well, in my opinion. And it is a fine work. But several of these altissimo passages are launched forth so that they assault the ears with their unfortunately dubious intonation. All is going along swimmingly, then suddenly the raucous altissimo is unleashed and faces cringe, spines stiffen and teeth clench tightly. Admittedly, altissimo passages such as these are rarely 'pretty' but they should be woven into the overall fabric of the music as well as possible, not set off like a hand grenade.

I don't want to be too harsh on Pekka. It was a very brave recording and some of the altissimo passages fare better than others; indeed, some are really very good. The slow movement is quite disarmingly lovely and his warm tone serves it well. I should mention too that the New Stockholm Chamber Orchestra sound rich and full and support the soloist ably. The sonic assault of the altissimo playing could partly be exacerbated too by the Bis recording. Generally, it's an excellent sounding record, but it carries a warning. The warning (announced in red lettering on the cover and explained on the back) goes like this:

"WARNING! Contrary to established practice this recording retains the staggering dynamics of the ORIGINAL performance. This may damage your loudspeakers, but given first-rate playback equipment you are guaranteed a truly remarkable musical and audio experience. Good luck!"

I suppose I was warned. Staggering, indeed.

Recordings of this concerto are quite rare. I remember hearing the John Edward Kelly recording on Arte Nova many years ago and not being particularly impressed by it. But I can't compare the two as I don't recall details of that recording at all. If you don't like the Kelly or you can't get it, I'd recommend this performance of the Larsson with some reservations. (Nobuya Sugawa has recorded it recently, but I'm yet to hear that CD.) I still recommend the disc most heartily for the Glazunov.

The Glazunov gets 5 stars from me. The Larsson, minus a few seconds of fingernails on a blackboard, would get 5 also, but since the blackboard is there, that knocks a point off from me.

The CD timing reflects its origins as an LP: 37'03'"