|The Blenheim Music Circle’s Concert Series|
David Shavreen reviews Amy Dickson (saxophone) and Catherine Milledge (piano)
A hybrid instrument, combining elements of the oboe and the clarinet with a tube of brass, it can be pastoral or elegiac, cheeky and rowdy, elegant and sophisticated. All these aspects were covered in the wide-ranging programme offered by these two musicians who gave us music for both the soprano and alto members of the family.
In the first half of the programme we had two jazz-inspired pieces, “Scaramouche” by Darius Milhaud - a lively, tuneful, cheeky piece with strong rhythms and cheerful melodies - and three Preludes by George Gershwin combining the exciting syncopations of the early jazz idiom with the echo of the Kletzmer bands that celebrated weddings and bar-mitzvahs in Eastern Europe.
In between there was contemporary music, with Its free-flowing patterns and challenging tonalities, by Cecilia McDowall and Mark-Anthony Turnage, the one celebrating the intimate chamber tradition of past masters, the other lamenting the loss of loved ones, an eloquent expression of sorrow and rage employing the full range of the saxophone and the percussive resources of the accompanying piano.
The next half of the programme was a pot-pourri in which pianist and saxophonist exhibited their resources in pieces which ranged across the repertoire from ancient to modern, in witty conversation, in dramatic argument, and in romantic interplay — all of this with a technique which left us gasping with admiration. Nothing is so hard as to make difficult tasks appear easy, and the music flowed backward and forward in what seemed an endless stream in which breath and fingers performed their magical ministrations without effort. Enjoyment was thus shared between performers and audience. Altogether a most enjoyable afternoon provided by two dedicated artists.
July 27, 2007