Tableaux de Provence: CD

This review was published on: December 2nd 2019

This attractive collection of works is the first saxophone and piano recording by Dominic Childs and Simon Callaghan. All of the works on the recording are French and are all either written by or inspired by women.

The Rhapsodie by Claude Debussy is perhaps not such a cornerstone of the saxophone repertoire as is the Premiere Rhapsodie for clarinet. This is a piece that would not have existed were it not for patronage of the wealthy American amateur saxophone player Elise Hall who took up the saxophone for health reasons at the age of forty-seven. Ms Hall was to give the first performance of the piece in Boston, however the work remained unpublished during Debussy's lifetime and he would never hear it performed.

The Sonata by Fernande Decruck is the first of two works by female composers on the recording, and is a particular favourite which has been championed by Dominic Childs. Decruck and her husband had spent time in the USA where her husband, a clarinet and saxophone player had played with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. This substantial four movement work, although written in 1943 owes much to the impressionistic sound worlds of Ravel and Debussy. Paule Maurice, who was of the generation slightly after Decruck is the other female composer represented on the recording. Her Tableaux de Provence suite is a collection of five contrasted movements.

Carmen provides the female inspiration for the final piece in the programme. The Fantaisie Brillante sur des airs de Carmen by François Borne is a set of virtuosic variations which originated as a flute piece. It has since been adapted for a number of instruments, and has become particularly popular with saxophone players. This exuberant show piece is an ideal complement for the other more contemplative pieces in the programme.

The programme notes in the CD provide insightful information to the historical background of these lesser known composers and their compositions. This is clearly an area which Dominic Childs is extremely knowledgeable. He plays with a subtle vibrato and a sumptuous sound, displaying a formidable techniqe throughout. The slightly reverberant sound on the recording is well suited to the repertoire. This is a highly recommended recording of works from the French school of saxophone playing.

Andrew Smith

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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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