Christopher Brellochs

Aaron Copland: Quiet City

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Quiet City is anything but quiet, dull, or boring. Saxophonist Christopher Brellochs and his fellow musicians create an extremely enjoyable album of music by Copland and other American composers to whom they wish to give exposure. The title work is poignant, with the trumpet and clarinets contributing to the melancholy, somber mood: the musicians capture a sense of seriousness and quiet gravity that are at the same time accessible to the listener. When the music turns lively, Brellochs and the others are able to easily shift into that emotion, adding the bass clarinet for more color. Brellochs has done a good job both in his performing of the work and in its adaptation. The smoky, seductive Ballade by Ornstein is nocturnal in its feel and fits in nicely with the Copland. Especially exciting is Aldridge's Sound Moves Blues, which is a nice contrast to the previous two pieces. It most certainly moves and swings like jazz. The addition of the violin makes for quite a stark contrast when the Lyric Suite by Hartley begins. Its dissonant introduction leads into beautiful tone colors in the saxophone and piano. The Scherzino whirls like a busy bee, and the piano never hits a false note in the flurry. One can certainly generalize that none of the musicians ever hit a false note, not even in the rapid dotted rhythms of the Gigue. The two-movement Sonata for soprano saxophone and piano is lyrical, with a graceful melody in the saxophone (which Paul Cohen plays as smoothly as a clarinet or flute). The musicians' agility is especially evident in the second movement, which sounds like a jig; the piano is a solid, assured, confident partner to the sprightly saxophone. Composer Lunde clearly understood the way to get the best out of the tone color of each instrument. The album concludes with the Suite for trumpet, alto saxophone, and piano by Barab, a densely textured work of five movements with close-knit lines in the various instruments. The musicians work beautifully together, virtually chasing each other in the Allegro. Their emotion is genuine and open, which serves to engage the listener. Kudos to Brellochs and his collaborators for their good musicianship as well as excellent choice of repertoire.

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