Tuesday, 2 August 2011

CLAUDE DELANGLE Saxophone Recital / Review

CLAUDE DELANGLE Saxophone Recital
Singapore Saxophone Symposium 2011
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts
Sunday (31 July 2011)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 2 August with the title "Subdued, spectacular sax".

The saxophone has in recent years garnered a sizeable following in Singapore, evidenced by the increasing number of players in wind ensembles and bands, and the very presence of the Singapore Saxophone Symposium, a festival organised by local composer-conductor and saxophonist Goh Toh Chai.

The stature of this international event was underlined by the appearance of world-renowned French classical saxophonist Claude Delangle, who has previously performed and recorded with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. His recital was a veritable showcase of the instrument’s versatility and range of colours outside of its popular role as a jazz instrument.

Beginning with Debussy’s Rhapsody, the dusky allure from sinuous solo lines resembled those of the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn, before giving way to a series of whimsical dances. Delangle’s ability to shape and vary the narrative thread was matched by pianist Boris Kraljevich’s sensitivity to the orchestral textures of his part.

Delangle was joined by US-based Singaporean Lin Chien-Kwan in Hindemith’s Concert Piece for two alto saxophones, where the intricate counterpoint meant both duo partners were nigh inseparable. The tonal but astringent idiom was piquant, spiced up by the music’s rhythmic vitality in the outer movements.

More accessible were four √Čtudes by Astor Piazzolla, originally written for flute. These were in reality well-disguised tangos in the Argentine’s inimitable languorous and sultry manner. Even in the alternating slow numbers, the beat from Kraljevic’s piano was palpable, with Delangle filling in with runs and arabesques, from subdued to spectacular.

The amicable Frenchman spoke in between pieces, and mused about the multi-cultural influences to be found in the saxophone arrangement of Chen Gang’s popular violin piece Sunshine Over Tashkurgan. Was it Chinese, Mongolian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Gypsy or Hungarian, or a smorgasbord of all of these? It’s almost anybody’s guess as his wailing soprano saxophone brought to mind a diversity of ethnic styles and their instruments in one exuberant romp.

Both Delangle and Lin were reunited for Philippe Portejoie’s Paris Bouquet, an enjoyable medley of songs and dances from the Gay Paree of Edith Piaf’s era, bringing the hour-long concert to a heady close. With the Gala Concert featuring more local and foreign talent that followed, the classical saxophone never had it so good here.

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