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REVIEW OF CONCERT HELD ON 12 OCTOBER 2014 at Templewood, Northrepps
HUW WIGGIN (Saxophone) and JAMES SHERLOCK (Piano)
Had this opening concert of Cromer Music Evenings season been advertised as a programme of contemporary classical music, the beautiful music room at Templewood would have been sparsely attended. In fact, a full audience was enthralled by Huw Wigginís programme of colourful music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Possibly though, as the virtuoso Huw Wiggin, Commonwealth Musician of the Year and Gold medal winner of the 2014 Overseas League annual music competition, was making a welcome return to Templewood, the knowledgeable audience knew what to expect.

The opening work in the programme set the scene: the dazzling rock-influenced Fuzzy Bird Sonata written in 1991 by Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu. Percussion themes, cascading scales, glissandi and long tones all effortlessly and elegantly played. The impact made by the next work Fantasia (1948) by Spanish composer Villa Lobos was marked, with its beautiful lyrical 2nd movement, surely one of the composerís greatest moments. We revelled in the precision of ensemble and the Spanish colour provided by accomplished accompanist James Sherlock. Later on in the programme we were treated to more Spanish sun in Manuel de Fallaís 7 Popular Songs from 1914 where the saxophone became a human voice, or was it vice versa? Astor Piazzolla is the composer that took the iconic Argentinean tango into the concert hall. His Histoire du Tango is one of his most popular works, and contrasts the 1930ís cafe style of the dance to 1960ís nightclub style. Quite sublime.

All through the programme, on soprano and alto saxes, vintage silver models from the Selmer factory in Paris, Wiggin produced a seamless flow of five octaves of pure dark liquid metal tone, with subtle vibrato perfectly matched to the pulse of the piece being played. Such is his assured and accomplished technique, including double-tonguing, multiphonics and circular breathing, that the listener is never aware of the utmost difficulty in some of his programme.

The concertís centre piece was Three Letter Word (2010) by English composer Andy Scott. Wiggin gave the world premiere of this work, dedicated to the memory of Swedish virtuoso jazz pianist and composer Esbjorn Svensson. Again the soloist made light of the technical demands, being able to play a melody in the highest reaches of the instrument, while accompanying himself in the lower registers. Such technical feats were also manifest in the concertís final work, a suite from Bernsteinís West Side Story, where the soloist even had time to shout Ďmamboí mid flow!

Throughout the programme, Sherlock the equally gifted partner at the piano, contributed both a solid foundation and a delicate veneer to the performance and his two solo spots of gems from Debussy and Rachmaninov delighted the audience. The two musicians were equally at home in chatting and joking with the audience, something that would not be possible at their next nightís concert in the Wigmore Hall.

Cromer Music Evenings, more accurately Templewood Music Afternoons, continues to be a concertgoer's delight with world-class performances of fascinating repertoire presented in uniquely elegant and intimate surroundings.

Stephen Richards - Tel 01263 834411



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