Thursday, February 08, 2018

Alliage Quintett - Lost In Temptation

On their new album “Lost In Temptation” the Alliage Quintett presents a multifaceted sound panorama for saxophone quartet and piano – with works by composers from Henry Purcell via Johannes Brahms and Camille Saint-Saëns to Kurt Weill.

The make-up of the Alliage Quintett is unique, consisting as it does of four saxophones and a piano. But it is this very combination that enables the four saxophonists and pianist Jang Eun Bae to delight one audience after another with masterpieces from all eras of music in sophisticated arrangements that respect the composer’s intentions. So successfully has the Alliage Quintett transferred its ideals to disc that it has already won the ECHO Klassik award twice. “Lost in Temptation” is the quintet’s fifth album for Sony Classical, presenting works from 300 years of music history. There are rousing instrumental movements from Henry Purcell’s semi-opera “The Fairy Queen”. The Armenian Aram Khachaturian offers music from his hit ballet “Spartacus”. An arrangement of Johannes Brahms’s popular song “Guten Abend, gut’ Nacht” joins a Fantasia on five songs from Kurt Weill’s famous “Threepenny Opera”. And as we have come to expect of the Alliage Quintett with their multifaceted approach, each and every one of the arrangements sounds as if it had been written as an original work for the really rather unusual formation of “Saxophone Quartet + Piano”.

In keeping with their album title “Lost in Temptation”, the artists celebrate the sensual, seductive effects of music. For that matter, many of the works deal with human enticements and temptations such as those of love. Henry Purcell’s semi-opera “The Fairy Queen” of 1692 is based on Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, where the love of the royal fairy couple Titania and Oberon is put to the test. Nor do Purcell’s magic spells in sound fail to enchant the listener in the quintet’s suite of his operatic instrumental movements. To capture something of the performance practice of the late 17th century, Alliage Quintett has commissioned a version that features percussion instruments and more. Accordingly, Jang Eun Bae has swapped her Classical grand piano for a Baroque harpsichord.

Further highlights of “Lost in Temptation” include the famous “Bacchanal” from the opera “Samson et Dalila” by Camille Saint-Saëns and the “Seven Scottish Airs” of Englishman Gustav Holst. Other delights are a suite taken from Ottorino Respighi’s “Antiche arie e danze”, for which he arranged works for lute from the 16th and 17th century for orchestra. And love and passion are certainly what makes the world go around in one of the world’s greatest operatic hits – Kurt Weill’s & Bertolt Brecht’s “Threepenny Opera”. The Alliage Quintett approached Stefan Malzew and he agreed to arrange five songs from the opera. But for the founder of the Alliage Quintett, Daniel Gauthier, Malzew has not so much written a classic arrangement as composed a fast and furious “Threepenny Opera Fantasy”.

The Alliage Quintett are touring Australia in February / March, performing with Sabine Meyer.

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