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  • Miles Hedley


Updated: Mar 2, 2019

If you have a spare hour on a Thursday lunchtime, stop by St Alfege’s for one of Trinity Laban’s weekly free recitals. You’ll never be anything but delighted – and sometimes you’ll be awestruck.

This week’s concert was by 16 members of the conservatoire’s saxophone ensemble under Gerard McChrystal who gave us a programme consisting of Misere I by Jan Dismas Zelenka, an arrangement of Elgar’s Nimrod, Extra Sensory Perception by Marc Mellits, the world premiere of Pocket Concertante by TL student James Hurst, an all-sax take on Mussorgsky’s Night On A Bare Mountain and a medley of ELO songs by Jeff Lynne.

Each was excellent – but three were exceptional.

Mellits’ 2018 composition, with its nods to minimalist masters such as Terry Riley and Philip Glass, was so wonderfully and so cleverly performed that in the fourth movement the horns sounded exactly like an orchestra’s string section playing spiccato.

Hurst’s short composition, with its demanding phrasing and complex harmonies, seeed to bring out the very best in the young saxophonists, spurring them on to ever greater heights of artistry.

And their playing of the Mussorgsky was so brilliantly fearless that it seemed not to matter that this thunderous work was being performed by a small ensemble rather than by the massed ranks of a full symphony orchestra.

Not bad for a damp Thursday lunchtime, I’m sure you’ll agree. You should try it some time.

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