Saxes, not taxes
Ryan Summerlin March 1, 2013
With tax time upon us, it was a great relief to change the T to an S for a wonderful evening last Friday. The Grand County Concert Series continued the celebration of their 10th classical season by bringing the Italian Saxophone Quartet to Tabernash. Two encores were wildly received, however we could have enjoyed dozens more after hearing an unusual program performed by the Italian Saxophone quartet. To think they were in Tabernash enriching our lives with outstanding musicianship.
This quartet was founded in Italy 30 years ago by Federico Mondelchi and Massimo Mazzoni. All four members have practiced and performed since an early age and now have the ability to blend smooth, fascinating harmonies and rhythms as a quartet. Their years of experience and listening skills gave us an evening with extremely high performance standards as well as a bounty of very enjoyable listening. Judy Shelter described it as exhilarating music that got under her skin.
Others commented on the presentation and fine programming. These men obviously enjoyed sharing their musical talent and Italian personalities with us. They engaged the audience immediately with the playing of a Bach Prelude and Fugue in which one could hear every voice distinctly, more so than a string quartet. The complexity of the music was easy to follow led by Federico on soprano sax, with Marco Gerboni, alto sax, Davide Bertleucci, tenor sax and Massimo, with his large baritone saxophone.
Three pieces by Scarlatti pleased every pianist attending since this music, written in the early 1700s, was given a new, vibrant and beautiful life. It is featured on one of their recordings so we can hear it often. The familiar Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, however, was a disappointment to this reviewer who is a biased string player. Four saxophones cannot replicate the sheer, delicate beauty of this music starting extremely softly. Saxes do not produce a range of dynamics sufficient to achieve the effects that Barber had in mind. The musicians found the “Adagio” their most difficult to play at this altitude because of the long, sustained phrases and our thin air.
By the 1940s, music had changed dramatically and we heard “Tony’s Song”by Michael Nyman. This had all the sounds of a large, bustling city with no rests in the music. Cacophonous sounds continued constantly and were thoroughly enjoyed by Annette Freytag. She lived in Winter Park for 10 years but moved to New York City. She loves both places and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of this piece.
The rest of the programming was described by many as just plain fun from hearing the works of Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Piazzolla and the music from the Fellini Film “8 _”. The four men played up , down and around the aisles. One highlight, however, was their serenade to Judy Baxter who had hosted them during their stay. She was brought on stage surrounded by two handsome Italians playing their instruments with the 3rd singing to her in appreciation of all the work she and the Board has done to bring them to Grand County.
One of their two encores had us all singing “O Solo Mio” as we wished them well on their worldwide travels. Their next concert is in warm Sonoma, California but we all hope they will come back here sometime. At least we have their CD while we do our taxes. Pure SAX relief at its finest.