review

Utópico - Quatuor Yendo: CD

This review was published on: June 1st 2018
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Utópico means utopian, which means someone who aspires to a state of Utopia, which means a place where everything is perfect… Enough definitions. I felt like I was in Utopia listening to this album because it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s got sublime musicality. It’s got flawless technique. It’s got photos of them in the bath on the back of the sleeve notes. And it’s got jazz!

The idea for Utópico stemmed from an invitation for Quatuor Yendo to perform one of the 12 Danzas Españolas by Enrique Granados (1867-1916) on France Musique’s ‘Generation Jeunes Interpretes’ (Generation Young Performers). They developed the idea into arranging and recording all 12 dances, then added a new commission: 5 Tangos Utópicos by Argentinian composer Luis Naón, which they placed in the middle of the album with six Granados dances either side. They then invited sensational jazz saxophonist Baptiste Herbin to play on four of the dances, echoing the practice of improvisation so essential in the music of Granados. The original 12 Danzas Españolas were written for piano in 1889 by the Spanish composer and conductor, and he himself would improvise liberally when performing his own music.

There are many fabulous moments on this disc. The lilting Arabesca (Track 2), gently stumbling and catching itself, with such tight ensemble. Also, check out Zambra (Track 3) – you’ve only heard the standard classical sax quartet sound so far, when suddenly Herbin’s edgy, contemporary jazz alto sax solo hits you with a stunningly virtuosic improvised cadenza, before the quartet return for him to continue improvising over. Quatuor Yendo have done something very clever and different here with four of the dances. Instead of diluting themselves into ‘jazzy crossover’ music, they’ve instead embraced the differences between classical and jazz sax playing. By asking a jazzer to play with their very ‘classical’ quartet, they’ve kept the two sounds distinct and authentic. This has enabled the two styles to meet head on and create something unique.

Quatuor Yendo are Spaniard Antonio Garcia Jorge (soprano); Antonin Pommel (tenor) and Martin Trillaud (baritone), both French; and our very own Jonathan Radford (alto). They are currently completing a masters in chamber music at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et Danse de Paris. Utópico is full of such uplifting, expressive, constantly shifting and evolving music that it makes the whole album feel alive. Coupled with immaculate sax playing of the highest order, this means that you must listen to this album.

www.yendoquartet.com

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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