Catch Me if you Can by Amy Dickson: Sony Classical

This review was published on: January 31st 2015
Amy Dickson – saxophone
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Benjamin Northey – conductor
Sony Classical 8843027202
Review by William Upton 

With her last album Dusk & Dawn Amy Dickson made a name for herself doing for the classical saxophone what Kathryn Jenkins and Charlotte Church have done for opera, reaching No.1 in the Classical charts. On this album she ventures bravely into unfamiliar territory, tackling three works originally written for world-renowned jazz saxophonists Michael Brecker, David Sandborn and Dan Higgins.

For his soundtrack to the film Catch Me if You Can – in which a hapless FBI agent attempts to track down a teenage con artist – John Williams delivered an understated jazz-inflected score that bubbled with suppressed energy. The saxophone – played by the wonderful Dan Higgins – featured so heavily that Williams arranged it as a concerto for saxophone and orchestra titled Escapades, which has since proved to be one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire. On this recording Amy executes the tricky fingerwork with assurance, although in aiming for a stylistically appropriate sound she seems to have sacrificed control over articulation and vibrato. The bass clarinettist in the accompanying Melbourne Symphony Orchestra provides some satisfyingly energised phrasing.

Michael Kamen is best known for his work as a composer of film music and as an arranger for the likes of Kate Bush and Pink Floyd. His Saxophone Concerto encapsulates some of the best and worst aspects of 1980s musical excess – the meandering first movement alone goes on for over 15 minutes – and you can’t help but feel that it relied heavily on the talents of David Sandborn, for whom it was written, to maintain interest. There are moments of dazzling orchestration which demand attention, but otherwise it sounds like a soundtrack in search of a film.

Australian composer Jessica Wells arranged Mark Knopfler’s Local Hero film soundtrack into a version for saxophone and orchestra especially for this recording. It is hard not to be moved by Knopfler’s melodic writing – redolent of his work with Dire Straits on the album Brothers in Arms – but the title ‘Concerto’ feels pretentious for what is essentially an atmospheric scene-setter followed by a karaoke suite comprising the three songs from the soundtrack that originally showcased Michael Brecker. Rex Goh does a fine job of impersonating Knopfler on guitar, but Dickson perhaps wisely steers clear of attempting to imitate Brecker in his pomp. The folky introductory movement successfully distils some of the soundtrack’s more orchestral moments.

Not to my taste, sadly, but should be a big seller.



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The Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 3010228, whose registered office is at Flat 51, Parkview Apartments, 122 Chrisp Street, London, E14 6ET. Email: membership(@) Tel: 01642 769 558

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