Tall Poppies


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 TP (1-901)


Viva Sax!

Margery Smith - saxophones

$23   (Australian dollars)


buy at: AMC - Buywell - iTunes

Roger Frampton - piano
Daniel Herscovitch - piano
Daryl Pratt - percussion
The Seymour Group
Mark Summerbell - conductor

Margery Smith is a Sydney-based musician who has made saxophone her speciality. Some of these works demand an instrumental virtuosity that Smith easily rises to. We also hear her versatility, in a range of music from the rollicking Holland Sonata, to the weaving lines of the Sutherland, to the intellectual and rhythmic demands of the Brophy, Marcellino and Sarcich, to the semi-improvised jazz style of the Frampton.

Gerard Brophywe bop
Margaret SutherlandSonata
Dulcie HollandSonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano
Raffaele MarcellinoWhispers of Fauvel
Roger FramptonDouble Dreaming
Paul SarcichMatters Arising


Typically an album such as this will attract reviews uneasy about the bridging of jazz and classical. I am not sure why we set up such barriers to the appreciation, pleasure and growth that comes from music whatever its perceived origins. It is typically Australian that the stylistic 'crashes' implicit in marrying together these pieces is not regarded as a problem - nor is it.

Brophy's piece is chaotically Tippettian: a jazzy jangle, jiving, hiccupping with bells. Marcellino's Fauvel piece is ballistic, modern, explosive and hammering. It howls and shrieks taking in memories of the Soukh along the way and emulating, in its melodic approach, the component struggles of a severed worm. Frampton's Dreaming has more continuity of line but by contrast is touched with greater dissonance. It is a morose little effort. The Sarcich grumbles and growls like a Leviathan or indulges in Blitzkrieg (10.08). He also finds room for an irresistible lyrical inspiration and his dangerous 'take' on this is held up to a Middle-Eastern filter.

The Sutherland sonata is Baxian (Bax was her teacher for a short time), aggressive, jazzy. There is also the same sense you find in the clarinet sonatas of William Alwyn and Arnold Bax but without the melodic drive of the Bax. The work suggests waters deeply stirred (6.30) and the sax pipes querulously among craggy piano statements. The piano writing recalls the ruggedness as well as the delicacy of Bax's masterwork Winter Legends. Nobility and tragedy haunt these pages. The Dulcie Holland piece is roundly contoured dappled with ochre and cinnamon tones and certainly more songfully-inclined than the Sutherland.

Margery Smith and the other artists serve the music well as far as I can make out from music all of which was quite new to me. The recording is quite close but none the worse for that.

© Rob Barnett

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 TP (1-901)



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