'Memories of You' are fond adieu for quartet

Works reviewed: 
Andante et Scherzetto, Pierre Lantier
Saxophone Quartet, Alec Wilder
Nuages - Scherzo, Eugene Bozza
Phantom Melos (1981), Rocco Di Pietro
Toccata and Fugue, Johann Sebastian Bach
Memories of You, Eubie Blake
Palm Beach Post
Palm Beach, FL
Mar 31 1996
Bill F. Faucett

STUART - Upon taking my seat at the Lyric Theatre just prior to Friday night's concert by the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, I was reminded of a joke famous among musicians: "What do you call 10,000 saxophones at the bottom of the ocean?" Answer: "A good start."

But those of us with a less-than-tolerant attitude toward this oft-maligned instrument could not help but be thrilled with the work of the quartet. The ensemble played with confident virtuosity and superb musicianship; more importantly, they demonstrated there is much beauty to both the saxophone and its literature.

Most of the program comprised works composed specifically for a quartet of saxophones, which includes soprano, alto, tenor and baritone instruments.

The best among these compositions was Pierre Lantier's delightful Andante et Scherzino (1942). The lush first movement was highlighted by fine tenor saxophone playing by Stephen Rosenthal.

Saxophone Quartet (1967) by Alec Wilder, a songwriter whose significant achievements in instrumental music are inexplicably overlooked, was admirably performed.

Eugene Bozza's Nuages (1946) and Rocco DePietro's Phantom Melos (1981) were the most modernistic works on the concert. Bozza's dazzlingly energetic music borrowed from Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, while the DePietro piece, with its angular melodies and tired gimmickry, was of little interest.

The recital opened with an impressive performance of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for Organ (arranged for saxophone quartet), but more impressive was the finale, which included arrangements of music by Duke Ellington and Eubie Blake.

It was a splendid rendition of Blake's Memories of You that provided the best moments of the night.

'Memories of You' are fond adieu for quartet