review

Unlocked : Emma McPhilemy (saxophones): CD

This review was published on: September 14th 2021
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The following review is taken from the Autumn 2021 issue of Clarinet & Saxophone magazine. For more reviews, news, and features from the single-reed world, join to receive our quarterly magazine and other membership benefits.


UNLOCKED
Emma McPhilemy (saxophones)
Jenni Watson (composer/multi-instrumental backings)
LTSD2021

Having followed the #lockthesaxdown project from its early days, this was an album I was keen to finally hear. The project, reported in the spring 2020 Clarinet & Saxophone, was developed very early on during the initial lockdown period. Producing excerpts from some of Waton’s pre-existing works, McPhilemy performed a demo that saxophonists could download and practise. Their aim was ‘to provide routine and motivation’, and this warm encouragement inspired many players to take up the weekly challenge, uploading performances to social media. The popularity of the project has led to this CD release, made possible through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Of the 14 excerpts produced for #lockthesaxdown, nine have been expanded and produced on the CD along with four additional new works, each written to further explore the possibilities of the saxophone as an instrument and continue to blur the boundaries of genre. 30,000 Reflections has minimalist influences, Rush Hour a distinct folk-dance influence, while the title track Unlocked begins quietly then builds and builds, brilliantly exploding like a firework. Many of the works are busy and technically very demanding. Salt Lines comes as a beautiful central repose, while Ray ends the disc calmly. Each track on the album has been developed and orchestrated and it is full of wonderful sounds, textures and colour. In addition to solo soprano and alto saxophone lines, McPhilemy also contributes to the backings on both instruments as well as vocals; Watson augments the backings on tenor and baritone saxophones as well as flute, clarinet, violin, percussion and vocals; Rob Buckland, who mixed, mastered and produced the album, has a credit on clarinet and bass clarinet; and pianist Martin Jacoby makes an appearance on track 11, Many faces. As to be expected from a team of this calibre, the production, the execution and musical intent is outstanding.

As I was already familiar with many of the works, I felt we also needed a view from a first-time listener, so I sent the CD to another member of the review panel who was eager to hear the disc.

Stephanie Reeve

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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(@) cassgb.org. Tel: 01642 769 558

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