Seeing an album of works by Schütz, Bach, and Giovanni Gabrieli accompanied by saxophones may inspire some listeners to give this release by the vocal Corvus Consort and the Ferio Saxophone Quartet a miss, but it is well worth hearing and even rehearing. For one thing, the resemblance between the sound of massed winds and that of an organ has been noted prior to this project. For another, Schütz himself alluded to the possibility of performing some of his works with an organ or with instruments on the individual parts, and yet again, the saxophone is descended from and has a certain sonic resemblance to the wind instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque. All of which is to say that one can actually forget that this is an experiment and simply enjoy the music, which ought to be the goal of many an audacious experiment. Listen to Schütz’s Selig sind die Toten, SWV 391, and it will likely be experienced simply as a convincing Schütz performance, not as something weird. The appropriateness of the choir-saxophones combination is underscored by the inclusion of four contemporary works for these forces, all premiered here, and one of these, Owain Park’s Miserere After Allegri, is a real standout, a kind of deconstruction of the mythical Allegri Miserere that, in turn, reflects further on the sound world imagined by Freddie Crowley, serving as director of both groups.
An undoubted novelty that sheds new light on its repertory and is totally enjoyable on its own terms.