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Thrilling … a gloriously enjoyable noise


Tempo, Roger Heaton

Freddie Crowley, the conductor of the 13-voice Corvus Consort, calls his new album with the Ferio Saxophone Quartet Revoiced, which is apt because every short item, except [three], [14] in all, has been arranged or transcribed by Crowley. Of the four new-ish pieces, three are existing works revamped by Crowley or the composer, and only Owain Park’s Miserere after Allegri is specifically written for this combination of saxophones and choir. Thirteen of the tracks are Baroque and Renaissance music, and even the four new pieces sound old, heavily influenced by their surroundings or taking early vocal pieces as their starting point. I wouldn’t normally listen to this kind of album [but] …

this is a hugely enjoyable disc, largely because of the excellent performances, particularly those of the choir.

The choir make a wonderful sound — well balanced with the young voices matched and blended… their tone colours vary, depending on what they’re singing, and I like the graininess and occasional grit they use in the lower voices, particularly the tenors.

The Ferios got together when they were students at the Royal College of Music, and they are very good players. Their style here is a consistent mezzo voce, which in itself is very beautiful … lovely baritone playing of Shevaughan Beere, whose unassuming chuffing along on the bass lines sounds for all the world like a Baroque bassoon – I found my ear being drawn away from the elegantly manicured top lines. They have thought about sound so that at certain moments you could mistake their close harmony for a chamber organ, or elsewhere – in Schütz, for example – soft-edged cornetts and sackbuts…

… Owain Park’s modern take on Allegri’s Miserere plays with much of the original music, twisting here and there chromatically with the soprano saxophone getting the high C towards the end. James MacMillan’s Christus vincit is what you expect, expressively slow and atmospheric, with the eight vocal lines of the original split between voices and saxophones, those high soprano parts going to the soprano saxophone.

American composer Sarah Rimkus’ Mater Dei also sounds surprisingly old despite the chromaticism, but builds to a powerful climax with the choir making a thrilling sound.

The most interesting of the four [new pieces] is Roderick Williams’ Ave verum corpus [reimagined], which pushes the ensembles with rich and interesting textures, taking Byrd’s motet as its starting point. This version was made by Williams for these performers.

A lot of work has gone into this project … it is a gloriously enjoyable noise…

The recording:
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Two excellent groups blend together very well

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Intriguing and effective arrangements … strikingly effective

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Energetic and enthusiastic director

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Performed here with panache by this super-versatile group

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Beautifully controlled performance revealing musicianship of the highest order

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Natural singers, phrasing supplely and expressively

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Character, texture, and colour through dynamic nuance

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A truly memorable evening

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A delightful take on beautiful music

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BBC Radio 3
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On Saturday 30th September Andrew McGregor was joined on BBC Radio 3 Record Review by oboist and producer Sarah Devonald to review the latest wind CD releases. The Ferio Saxophone Quartet’s recording for Chandos, ‘Flux‘, featured on the programme. McGregor and Devonald discussed the recording at length and praised it very highly for the choice of repertoire, the calibre of the performances by Ferio and the quality of the sound.  

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Their ability to create a beautifully unified, warm tone … highly recommended

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Playing is of the highest level throughout

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Gramophone Magazine: what’s immediately striking…is the tonal subtlety and expressiveness of the Ferios’ playing

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Unalloyed delight … irresistible exuberance
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Ferios's 'Flux' is MusicWeb International Recording of the Month

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Plenty of High Quality Music on the Festival Fringe

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Exquisite pace, mood and dynamics – 5 Stars

 The Latest, Andrew Connal ★★★★★

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