At what is principally an early music festival, the combined ensemble brings new colours to a varied selection of Baroque and Renaissance vocal works, offering a fresh and exciting route into this repertory. Corvus Director Freddie Crowley’s specially-created transcriptions and arrangements — described as “intriguing and strikingly effective arrangements” by BBC Radio 3 Record Review — make use of the saxophone’s quasi-vocal timbre to blur the distinction between voices and instruments, delivering a heightened emotional intensity in music by Heinrich Schütz, J. S. Bach, J. M. Bach and Andrea Gabrieli.
The programme also includes three magnificent works by living composers. Written specially for Corvus and Ferio, Owain Park’s Miserere after Allegri is a recomposition of Allegri’s iconic choral work, placing voices and saxophones in dialogue and translating the original music into a rich contemporary soundscape. Sarah Rimkus’s Mater Dei is a deeply-moving meditation on the Virgin Mary, combining ancient and modern texts and soundworlds in a slow burn which builds to a powerful dramatic climax. Freddie Crowley’s arrangement of the stunning Christus vincit by James MacMillan gives the original high soprano solo to the soprano saxophone, bringing an added brilliance to the soaring line with its lithe improvisational ornamentation, and allowing for a magical diminuendo when the solo is left hanging at the end of the piece, fading into its own echo.
Ferio Saxophone Quartet will also perform music by Handel and Purcell, arranged by Iain Farrington specially for their 2018 disc of Baroque transcriptions ‘Revive’, and Corvus Consort will perform works by Johann Michael Bach and Johann Christoph Bach in their original versions for choir a cappella.
Featuring re-imagined Baroque and Renaissance gems alongside four works by living composers, ‘Revoiced’ was released in July 2022 on Chandos Records to great acclaim in the press and on radio.
Exploring the magical blend of voices and saxophones, the disc received high praise from Tempo Quarterly Review (“Thrilling… a gloriously enjoyable noise”), Gramophone Magazine (“an imaginative programme… I find myself won over”), and Tortoise Media (“a bold and fascinating recording”).