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.”

Cromer Music Evenings presented two very accomplished performers for the last concert of the 2012/13 series who have performed extensively in the UK and overseas, both graduating from prestigious music colleges and both having performed concerts at sea on Cunard and P&O ships all over the world, including Cunard’s famous Ocean Liner Queen Mary 2.

The chosen programme proved to be a delight and seemed to be prepared to introduce composers, apart from Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin, who were probably unknown to most of the audience. This proved to be so successful as the response to each piece was glorious appreciation in applause.

The well known work Czardas by Vittorio Monti opened the programme, followed by Oblivion, Fugata and Libertango by Astor Piazolla. Then West Side Story Suite by Leonard Bernstein (arr A Brinsford), followed by Scaramouche by Darius Milhaud (the French Composer with whom the great Dave Brubeck studied).

George Gershwin’s Three Preludes (arr by the Russian Shapashnikova) was the first item after the interval – here the 2nd of three was in blues style, slow moving and beautifully phrased with the breath control and tone of the soprano saxophone was so profoundly awe inspiring. The last piece on the programme, The Devil’s Rag by Jean Matitia – here the rapport between the two extremely talented performers was a joy to behold – absolutely brilliant in fact.

To augment the programme, Tim Abel played two piano solos, GriegsWedding Day at Troldhaugen and Death Ray Boogie, the latter bringing spontaneous euphoria to all in the Music Room at Templewood.

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.

The place to be today was Templewood, without doubt!

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.

Baroque music can work surprisingly well on the saxophone. In a transcription of the D minor Oboe Concerto by Alessandro Marcello (still sometimes mis-attributed to his brother, Bendetto) there was magical stillness in the second movement and some nimble playing in the third. In the G minor Flute Sonata, BWV 1020, attributed to JS Bach but now generally thought to be by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, and drive in the outer movements were balanced by poise and elegance in the middle one.

I was a bit apprehensive as to how Franck’s Violin Sonata would survive transcription for alto sax, but it came out of it rather well. Wiggin and Sherlock expertly balanced the work’s latent passion with the poise of both the opening and the canonic finale.

Huw Wiggin took a break in each half, leaving James Sherlock centre-stage. Liszt’s transcription of ‘Widmung’, the openingnumber of Schumann’s song-cycle Myrthen, was given a soulfulperformance. Introducing Poulenc’s Mélancholie in thesecond half, Sherlock said that in spite of the title it was one ofthe happiest pieces he knew. His playing, though, told a different story, clearly the true one. If Poulenc had hit upon Elgar’s phrase’smiling with a sigh’ this is a piece he would surely have applied it to.

The evening’s success was partly down to Huw Wiggin and James Sherlock’s entertaining platform manner, sparring off each other verbally as well as musically – a style of given its head in François Borne’s virtuoso Fantasie on themes from Carmen. I’ll even let them off starting half-way through it without telling anyone.

 

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.”