review

Marici Saxes - Light: CD

This review was published on: December 18th 2017
| TWITTER

Stylish, sleek, sophisticated… and that’s just the album cover. With a photo shoot that wouldn’t be out of place on the cover of Vogue, Marici Saxes’ debut CD, Light, features their own arrangements of well-known classics, some newer works and an original composition by their baritone player. In their own words, they are ‘four supremely successful saxophonists who came together [in 2010] through a craving for collective creativity’. Marici Saxes are Sarah Field
(soprano), Fiona Asbury (alto), Hannah Riches (tenor) and Josie Simmons (baritone), alumni of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music. They made this album as a response to the public demand of their YouTube fans, and as a social media-savvy quartet with 6,000 subscribers and nearly one million views, who can argue with that?

Classical sax quartet recordings seem to range from cutting-edge contemporary to ‘lite-classical’ easy-listening albums. Light sits unashamedly in the middle of this spectrum, with arrangements of Stanley Myer’s ‘Cavatina’ and Fauré’s ‘Pavane’ (scored by the quartet themselves), Piazolla’s ‘Libertango’, and the delightful Suite of Irish Folk Tunes composed by baritone player Josie Simmons.

First thoughts on looking through the track listings were that we really don’t need another sax quartet version of ‘Pavane’, ‘Vocalise’ or (God forbid) ‘Palladio’. But the more I listened, the more this album drew me in. There are no fireworks inside, but bags of honest, handcrafted melodies – beautifully played chamber music with a warm presence and a totally unified sound. I defy anyone to listen to Track 7 (‘Emmanuel’ by Michael Columbier) and not be moved by the simple melody and accompaniment consisting of a gorgeous soprano line soaring over sensitively played inner parts.

Overall, the disc sounds fantastic. There’s a very natural ‘live’ sound, avoiding electronic reverb or overproduction. No artificial preservatives or sweeteners here, it’s all homegrown and organic. The quartet has clearly spent considerable time working on their recorded ensemble sound, so hats off to them and everyone involved in the recording. I’d urge any student groups to listen to Light as an example of just how great a sax quartet can sound – Marici Saxes make it seem easy.

Neil Crossley

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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 48 Henniker Point, Leytonstone Road, London, E15 1LQ. Email: finance (@) cassgb.org. Tel: 0845 644 0187

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