Kaleidoscope Sax Quartet

at Market Drayton Festival Centre 26 January 2020

Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet made music that shone as brilliantly as the instruments they played. Their Festival Centre audience included lovers of classical chamber music, fans of jazz, and aficionados of new music. If there was a risk that none would be entirely satisfied with an ensemble which embraces all three genres, it was blown away by the end of the first piece. The sax, with it’s wide range of voices both soulful and full of colour, is quick to make friends when played as well as this.

The quartet’s eclectic programme was built on the creative personalities of its members and it worked a treat. Arrangements of pieces by Dvořák, Clara Schumann, and Debussy were accompanied by the quartet’s own arrangement of two preludes and fugues by J S Bach. They more than justified the practice of ‘borrowing’ repertoire from before 1846, when the saxophone was invented. Bach would surely have shared our enjoyment.

Contemporary pieces written specifically for saxophone quartet both wowed and enchanted. They included David Lancaster’s ‘Swan’, with its serene soprano voice floating above a sub-marine tenor and baritone turmoil, and Jonathan Dove’s haunting close harmonies for four alto saxes in ‘Tuning in’, performed with entertaining theatricality.