“And the award for the most tightly-focused program for a classical recording goes to — ‘Canadian Landscapes.” If the Grammys ever offered such an award, this disc would win it.
The release features not just music by Canadian composers but works by them for saxophone and organ. It’s a very unusual instrumental combination with a very small catalog of original works. And it’s a sound worth exploring.
Saxophonist Claudia Tesorino plays with a very distinctive sound. It has the rounded, honeyed tone of the French classical tradition. And yet there’s also a slight edge to her playing that gives many of the works an added boost of energy.
The sound of the saxophone blends quite well with that of the organ. Both have a slightly metallic quality. The organ’s reed stops use vibrating metal, as opposed to cane for the saxophone. And yet the resulting sound resembles a woodwind.
Organist Jonathan Oldengarm is a first-rate collaborative artist. He ensures his instrument is always in perfect balance with Tesorino’s. Whether it’s providing accompaniment, counterpoint, or taking the lead.
The music is equally fascinating. Ruth Watson Henderson’s Fantasy for Alto Saxophone and Organ has a dreamlike Messiaen feel. Derek Healey’s Northern Landscapes uses a soprano saxophone to evoke open spaces.
I think my favorite work was Denis Bedard’s Sonata No. 3 for Alto Saxophone and Organ. It’s amiable character and straight-forward melodies reminded me of Malcolm Arnold.
The Suite of Wolfgang Rottenberg is also a well-crafted work, though a bit conservative. Peter Matthews’ Pastorale is a beautiful, lyrical work. It has a somewhat elegiac sound that can be quite attractive.
This disc has an incredibly tightly-focused program. But it delivers. I enjoyed every selection and added some new names to my list of composers to seek out.
Music by Derek Healey, Ruth Watson Henderson, Denis Bedard, Wolfgang Bottenberg, Peter Mathews
Claudia Tesornio, saxophone; Jonathan Oldengarm, organ
Klanglogo CD KL1417