Lovers of Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon or even Roland Kirk would have found the classical saxophone and piano experience at the Inverurie Town Hall last Friday different but exhilarating, and certainly virtuosic. Richard Scholfield and Iain Clarke, another talented duo coupled by their time at the Scottish Conservatoire, presented a diverse and captivating programme displaying a range of styles and moods with international and very local connections. Secure, crisp, angular, and betimes smooth and mellow (but no breathy jazz vibrato here), Richard played at first soprano and then alto sax with great enthusiasm and obvious pleasure which he communicated well to the audience. The music was unfamiliar to most of us but stimulating; piano and sax were well matched as they confidently moved through the necessarily modern repertoire.
The concert opened with André Jolivet’s short “Fantaisie-Impromptu”, characterised by its diverse timbral palette and quirky unique character. Murky sombre sounds gave way in the second movement to a bustle of jazz and other styles with a delightful final flourish.
Fernande Decruck was a French composer and organist. She wrote her “Sonata in C-sharp” in 1943 and it has become a favourite of the saxophone canon. Impressionistic, with warm melodies and rounded harmonies the four movements were rhythmically contrasting. The final movement was particularly lovely.
The excitement of the evening was undoubtedly John De Simone’s “Another Life”, a piece written expressly for the Scholfield Clarke Duo. John explained to us that it was derived from his thoughts of “what if…” reflecting on his life to age fifty; three short meditations on “a life not lived”. The piano and saxophone were in vigorous dialogue with rapid ascending measures and insistent repeating piano motifs, beautifully executed. We are fortunate in having John living in the Garioch and, I am sure, can look forward to more musical treats from him.
The duo continued to impress with Graham Fitkin’s “Gate”, a minimalist work requiring impeccable timing and ensemble playing. A trill starts this off and persists throughout in differing forms and temporal arrangements moving back and forth between the instruments.
“Sonata” by Paul Creston (1906-1985), a popular American composer, opened the second half coupling strident and then tranquil seriousness with a joyful finale. The American contribution continued; William Grant Still’s “Romance” was followed by William Albright’s “Sonata,” both of which showcased the duo’s versatility and musicianship. Scholfield’s soulful interpretation of the melodies, combined with Clarke’s sensitive accompaniment, left a lasting impression on the audience.
This was a pleasure and an education, an antidote to the gloomy drizzle outside. The high quality of Inverurie Music’s concert choices continues with such expertise and unashamedly good value on our doorsteps. More please.