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A keen musical intelligence and a remarkably beautiful sound

Reflections

BBC Music Magazine, Kate Wakeling

Despite its versatility, the saxophone is too often overlooked as a solo instrument. This appealing collection of works pairs original compositions alongside reimagined popular classics in a welcome celebration of this agile and sonorous instrument.

Having won the Commonwealth Musician of the Year and the 2014 Royal Overseas League Annual Music Competition, Huw Wiggin is fast emerging as one of the UK’s star saxophonists.

He brings a keen musical intelligence and a remarkably beautiful sound to these performances, ably accompanied by John Lenehan (piano) and Oliver Wass (harp).

Marcello’s Concerto in D minor (originally for oboe) works splendidly, and Lenehan deftly conjures the crispness of a fortepiano in his accompaniment, while in Manuel de Falla’s 7 Canciones populares españolas Wiggin brings both silk and spice to his vibrant interpretation.

Indeed, the real highlights of the disc are two works originally composed for saxophone and piano: Paule Maurice’s lyrical Tableaux de Provence (1948-55) and Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Sing Bird (1991).

In the latter, the saxophone is scored in a quasi-improvisatory style to soar and wheel, and Wiggin brings dazzling flair and imagination to his performance, providing a notably uplifting close to this enjoyable disc.

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Reflections
This is a lovely disc, combining musicianship and imagination

Planet Hugill, Robert Hugill – Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★) 

Reflections
I’d put it up there on my top ten list of favourites this year
Thoroughly Good, Jon Jacob

Huw Wiggin: a virtuoso of the saxophone

Henley Standard

Two supreme performers who treated them to a dazzling display of musicianship, artistry and technical wizardry, the like of which they can only occasionally have encountered.

Westmorland Gazette, Brian Paynes

The Kendal Midday Concert Club has the happy knack – when faced with last-minute changes of artist – of finding replacements of equal professional standing who are significantly much more than mere ‘replacements’. Such was the case recently when the pianist, James Sherlock, due to partner the saxophonist, Huw Wiggin, in an  attractive pre-Christmas recital, was indisposed and unable to appear. In his place Huw called upon Somi Kim, a young South Korean lady, who studied in New Zealand, graduating in 2013, won numerous prizes there and, after moving to the UK to study at the Royal Academy and winning further prizes, has become a Park Lane Group Artist. Somi has gained much experience in repetiteuring and is much sought after as a chamber musician and song accompanist.

So original, daring & musically dazzling that it takes one’s breath away

Classical Reviews, Joe Fuller (Brighton Festival 2015)

Sometimes a concert can be so original, daring & musically dazzling that it takes one’s breath away and reminds us of the potential of live music. Huw Wiggin’s virtuoso saxophone playing was one such occasion. The programme was fascinating, including two stunning pieces from Graham Fitkin: ‘Glass’ was a melancholy number that was beautifully simple, still and moving (featuring subtle piano backing from James Sherlock) whereas ‘Gate’ was a more technically challenging piece that was a rewarding showstopper.

Beautiful tone, dynamic gradations and spell binding long note values

Cromer Music Evenings, Terry Keeler

“Huw Wiggin’s performance of Bernstein’s “There’s a place for us” played with such sensitivity, I am sure stirred emotions with the beautiful tone, dynamic gradations and spell binding long note values which were perfect in intonation, even in the pianissimo passages – a master class in breath control indeed.”

Huw Wiggin and James Sherlock's entertaining platform manner, sparring off each other verbally as well as musically

Derby Telegraph

It’s taken a long time for the classical world to fully embrace the saxophone. Even now the repertoire relies on a disproportionate number of transcriptions – not necessarily a bad thing, but symptomatic of a gap that is still closing.

The one original saxophone piece in the recital by Huw Wiggin and pianist James Sherlock was the opening item, Pedro Iturralde’s Pequeña czarda. The players’ full command of its changing moods was typical of the evening as a whole. Wiggin switched from alto to soprano instrument for two movements from Astor Piazzolla’s  Histoire du tango, exploring an impressive dynamic range, and producing a delectable cor anglais-like tone at the bottom of the instrument’s compass.

Security of intonation

Classical Source, Richard Whitehouse

“Saxophonist Huw Wiggin had the full measure of the engaging and highly unpredictable variations on a theme of Leonardo da Vinci that are Giles Swayne’s Leonardo’s Dream (2007), with its airborne final stage summoning an appealingly mellifluous tone, then dispatching Michael Berkeley’s Keening (1987) with the appropriate plangent tone. Wiggin gave Two Memorials by Mark-Anthony Turnage – the wistful, even diffident ‘Trier’ (2000) and the more overtly commemorative ‘Memorial’ (1995), displaying a security of intonation not to be taken for granted with the soprano saxophone.”

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20/09/2020