Rant : John Harle: Faber music

This review was published on: August 29th 2020


John Harle, arr John Lenehan
Soprano saxophone (or clarinet) and piano
Faber Music

When trying out RANT! the exuberance of the saxophonist Jess Gillam, who gave the first performance, is abundantly clear. It is full of energy, rhythmic drive and sparkle. Cumbrian folk tunes, as well as some original tunes by Ed Haslam, are the inspiration for the piece, which opens with a quote from ‘Cumberland Nelly’. It is more suited to the range and timbre of the soprano saxophone than the clarinet (in B flat), though nonetheless challenging for both. I would imagine also that the sound of the saxophone might cut through the full orchestral version more successfully than the clarinet.

It is a pity that the solo part has not been printed with an extra page, as only one page-turn (of the four) is manageable, and the one that is manageable does not look visibly so because two bars’ rest are printed overleaf. In order to try this piece out for myself I had to copy all of the pages and rework the page turns. While testing it with a pupil (thanks Sue!) we had to keep stopping so she could turn her pages. Not everyone will be able (or want) to memorise this piece to avoid the page-turns.

The piano reduction is exciting too and has its own challenges, not least because of copious octaves in the left hand (mine ached!), and both hands get quite a workout. The notation in bar 88 of the solo part is misleading; a rogue minim and crotchet rest occur in compound time, which is unfortunate.

Overall, though, this a great addition to the repertoire: an extrovert piece lasting around six minutes with some reflective moments.

Carol Taylor

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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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