Following a trio of highly praised Orchid Classics releases, saxophonist Huw Wiggin returns with Rhapsody, an album of saxophone and piano music performed with pianist Noriko Ogawa and featuring world-premiere recordings.
The inspiration for the album came from Debussy’s seminal Rapsodie, which established the rhapsodic theme of the repertoire chosen and commissioned by Wiggin and Ogawa. At the heart of the release is a new work, Night Paths by Joseph Phibbs, who had composed for Ogawa before, and who writes in the album booklet: ‘I’ve always felt the saxophone to be a deeply expressive instrument, yet one tinged with feelings of solitude, even loneliness. These qualities, combined with its urban, nocturnal associations (the busker on a street corner, or in the underground), find expression in this single movement work, whose free-flowing character and wide range of moods resembles a rhapsody.’
The other new works on the disc also stem from established collaborations: Wiggin has worked with Iain Farrington many times, and also relished the opportunity to commission a new piece from his school friend and colleague Jennifer Watson. Both written for soprano saxophone, Farrington’s bluesy Paganini Patterns is connected with the album’s rhapsodic theme via Rachmaninov’s famous Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and Watson’s Rhapsody on an Echo Chamber shifts between animation and contemplation.
This is an album that showcases the versatility of the saxophone, and alongside these captivating new works we hear wide-ranging pieces from the classical repertoire. Debussy’s Rapsodie brims with rich whole-tone lines and harmonies, Spanish rhythms and mellifluous saxophone writing. Famous for By the Sleepy Lagoon but increasingly celebrated for his wider output, Eric Coates’s virtuoso Saxo-Rhapsody is one of the major saxophone works of its time and ranges from wistful anticipation to sophisticated showmanship. The release is rounded off with the most famous of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, based on the lively csárdás dance style and heard on this release in an arrangement by Iain Farrington.
Praise for Wiggin’s Orchid album Reflections:
‘Wiggin brings dazzling flair and imagination to his performance’ BBC Music Magazine
‘Huw Wiggin’s great virtue on this disc is that he makes it sound so natural … This is a very mobile sound, but one capable of many different incarnations … a lovely disc, combining musicianship and imagination’ Planet Hugill