New Irish Music
The Chatham Saxophone Quartet has certainly advanced the cause of Irish new music for its medium with this recital which, while relatively short on playing-time, unfolds seamlessly as a programme. Bryan Byrne’s First Saxophone Quartet launches proceedings with its compact take on sonata design and alternation between pensiveness and impetus, the latter purposefully gaining the upper hand in an exhilarating close. Ian Wilson’s heaven lay close began life as music for tabla and string quartet, but this transcription effects no less imaginative a meeting of cultures, played out over four movements which between them constitute a trajectory that is symphonic in its expressive range and formal cohesion. Very different is Brian Irvine’s pithy conjuring-up of an American cattle auctioneer – the latter’s hectic discourse (recorded in situ) given presence and not a little humour in the context of those cavorting saxophones. Contrast again with iridescent cobalt glow, Jonathan Nangle’s artful yet affectionate take on both the graphics and colours of 1980s video games, whose three sections amount to a teasing entity.
To close, Kenneth Edge’s Three Etudes with their respective evocations of incessant talking, passing mayhem and two people who find themselves contentedly lost amid the ‘scenic routes’ of their conversation. An understated yet eloquent way in which to round off a disc that amply underlines why the CSQ have rapidly established themselves at the forefront of their field, enhanced by vividly immediate sound and with succinctly informative booklet-notes. Hopefully a follow-up recital will not be long in coming.