Quintessence Saxophone Quintet – Moving Mozart – CPO

by | Nov 28, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Quintessence Saxophone Quintet – Moving Mozart – CPO multichannel SACD 777 134-2, 55:14 (Distr. by Naxos) ****:

Be warned that I’m a nut for sax quartets and quintets; even if these
German performers weren’t superb musicians I would probably still love
an all-Mozart collections of transcriptions for sax quintet.  But
of course they’re top flight and the arrangements – mostly by soprano
saxist Uli Lettermann – are wonderful with their playfulness very much
in the Mozartian vein. Their good sense of humor is illustrated in
their individual photos in the note booklet – all of them are wearing
Mozart wigs. The choice of works to adapt for the five inventions of
Adolph Sax are varied: the opening movement of the Symphony No. 40,
another from the Symphony No. 25, the 4th movement of Eine kleine
and the Rondo a la turca among them. There are several
transcriptions selected from Mozart’s vocal music: an aria from The
Marriage of Figaro
, the Dies Irae from his Requiem, and the entire
short Ave Verum Corpus.  The last is just as pietistic as the
lovely choral work – not all of these transcriptions are jazzed-up
Mozart, but some clearly go beyond the sort of improvisation Jacques
Loussier does with Bach.

The range from the soprano sax down to the baritone is quite wide,
and  the harmonies rich and strong with the great
arrangements.  The five players are spread across the frontal
soundstage and the acoustics of the church in which the recording was
made add to the feeling of being there.  I would have placed
Quintessence in a circle around the multichannel mikes a la the
approach of Tacet Records. (In fact I once recorded a sax quartet
binaurally just that way.) But the layout on this SACD probably will
appeal to more listeners.

– John Sunier


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