Favorite

The Joy of Sax 

It's mostly associated with jazz, but the saxophone was developed in the 1840s as a military and classical instrument. Tucson-based Michael Hester is one of the finest classical saxophonists around, as is evident from his CD Seasons (Smooth Stone Productions) and is likely to be demonstrated live April 26-27 when he premieres a concerto by William Campbell with the Catalina Chamber Orchestra.

Why Hester titled his CD Seasons isn't obvious; what is crystal clear, though, is Hester's unfailing musicality and technical facility. His partnership with pianist Marie Sierra results in a very attractive recital featuring accessible mid-20th-century music.

Transcriptions of some older pieces do enter the mix. Just start with the romantic Intermezzo from Goyescas by Enrique Granados, and listen to how smoothly Hester plays across all registers, his lovely crooning alternating with nimble negotiation of the Spanish figurations. There's nothing remotely Baroque about the way Hester plays a transcription of a Handel violin sonata, but it is highly musical--expressive in the slow movements, phrased well enough in the fast movements to make you overlook the music's nattering sewing-machine character.

Otherwise, the program offers mostly French pieces from the 1940s and '50s. Paul Bonneau's unaccompanied Caprice en forme de valse has so many sly flurries of notes--which Hester beautifully negotiates--that you forget you're hearing a single-line instrument. Several other attractive pieces flow by, but the best comes last: Alfred Desenclos' Prélude, cadence et finale. It's darker and more substantial than the usual Paris Conservatory test piece, and Hester expertly controls the frantic finale.

This weekend, Hester will join the Catalina Chamber Orchestra and conductor Enrique Lasansky for the premiere of William Campbell's Alto Saxophone Concerto; Hester declares that "this extremely accessible and exciting new work is a significant addition to the classical saxophonist's repertoire."

At the same concert, Hester, Campbell (as pianist) and percussionist Todd Hammes will join forces as the Sonoran Consort, performing their collaborative work Open Rail with the orchestra (see "Elements of Style," Sept. 5, 2002), as well as Darius Milhaud's Creation of the World. Rachel Hahn will also solo in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5.

Concerts are at 7:30 p.m. April 26 and 3 p.m. April 27 at the Catalina High School auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St. Admission costs $10 at the door, with discounts for students, seniors and families.

More by James Reel

  • French Delights

    At Frogs Organic Bakery, the pastries will amaze you
    • Jan 5, 2012
  • His Name Is Max Thunder

    The story of a downtown social queen with cancer, a gay theater director with mental illness, and the child they're raising together
    • Jul 1, 2010
  • Convinced of Greatness

    Live Theatre Workshop trades laughs for substance with 'The Housekeeper'
    • Aug 27, 2009
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Almost Famous

    25 Years Later, frontman Brian Smith reflects on the misadventures of a bunch of coulda-shouldas called Gentlemen Afterdark
    • Sep 3, 2015
  • Heartbreak Pass

    Howe Gelb navigates the joy and sorrow in his double life
    • May 7, 2015

The Range

After Orlando: An International Theatre Action

Fifth Annual Rock Lottery with The Flycatcher

More »

Latest in Music Feature

  • Revolucionario!

    A brief glimpse into the brilliant life of songman Lalo Guerrero, the ‘Father of Chicano Music’ and the first Mexican-American to receive Presidential Medal of the Arts
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Noise Annoys

    The Rock Lottery and Linda Ronstadt’s love of The Trainwrecks
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Vintage Vinyl Tucson

    This week: The Spiders 'Don’t Blow Your Mind' b/w 'No Price Tag'
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Court and Spark

    This Tucson singer-songwriter, who moonlights as a jailhouse psychotherapist, overcame career-killing circumstances
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation