- Featured: Flotilla
- Release Date: 6/1/2009
REVIEW IN MAJOR UK SUNDAY NEWSPAPER FOR FLOTILLA: THE OBSERVER - 9TH AUGUST 2009 All saxophones and keyboards? Hard work? The chamber ensemble Flotilla banishes any such anxiety. There's 18th-century repertoire - an arrangement of a trio sonata by Bach's contemporary Zelenka - to the present, with several premiere recordings. Liz Johnson's brief 'O Vos', Paul Evernden's meditative 'Three Songs for Sajmiste', Edward McGuire's 'Remembrance' and William Sweeney's Scottish-folk inspired 'Cha b'ann grad ...' explore ideas of elegy. Robert Myers's 'Flotilla From the Villa' hints at fiesta and jazz. Elliott Carter's early Canonic Suite (1945) nods at baroque formality. This CD sparkles with energy and the playing is terrific. Fiona Maddocks © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009 Flotilla are a unique ensemble of instrumentalists performing music with a variety of soundworlds: trios and quartets for saxophones, often in unusual combinations, and also including piano or synthesizer. A consort of saxophones, rather than a traditional saxophone quartet. Flotilla's all-star cast brings together four highly respected saxophonists with vast experience in chamber music, as well as strong individual profiles in solo, orchestral, and commercial music. They began working on this project in 2007, and released a CD recording on the Big Shed Music label in April 2009. The ensemble's poetic repertoire of multilayered compositions - by turns clever, thoughtful, vibrant, haunting, elegiac - is a meditation on melody with themes of reflection, echo, and memory at it's centre. This music evokes a strong sense of mirroring, not just between the musicians who are placed on an equal footing by the thread of often contrapuntal writing which runs through much of their repertoire, but also between the modern and ancient as the contemporary works draw upon a variety of antecedents ranging from liturgical polyphony to folk music. Flotilla's programmes include works by major international and British composers including Elliott Carter, Jonathan Dove, Edward McGuire, and William Sweeney. Committed to developing a distinctive repertoire, the group has presented the first performances and recordings of several works, including Paul Evernden's Three Songs for Sajmište and Liz Johnson's Hildegard Reflections. Under the auspices of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, they also gave the first UK performances of Juste Janulyte's Endings. The ensemble takes it's name from the title of one of their signature works, Robert Myers' Flotilla from the Villa, for three saxophones and two pianos. 'Flotilla' captures perfectly the idea with which the four players began: a small group of musicians, each with their own distinct identity and unique talents, setting sail together into uncharted musical waters. Kyle Horch: soprano and alto saxophones Naomi Sullivan: soprano and alto saxophones Andy Tweed: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones Alistair Parnell: alto and tenor saxophones, piano, synthesizer More Reviews... 'Razor-sharp ensemble, immaculate voicing, and imaginative programming: Flotilla is a group to look out for.' Barry Millington, Evening Standard "Flotilla is an exceptional recording, demonstrating the beautiful musicianship and versatility of every musician. The literature is very interesting and the recording opens further works of chamber music involving the saxophone. Horch, Sullivan, Tweed, Parnell, and Watson should be applauded for their attention to detail and for their high degree of musicianship. The pure and well-blended tones of their saxophones should be an inspiration to us all. The CD Flotilla should be in the library of all saxophonists." Stephen Fischer, The Saxophone Symposium (Journal of the North American Saxophone Alliance) If you play the saxophone yourself or love the sound of that evocative instrument, this collection easily demonstrates that jazz is not the only genre where this instrument belongs. The Zelenka piece alone is ample evidence that the saxophone is as versatile an instrument as any, especially in the hands of this fine ensemble. Jean-Yves Duperron, classicalmusicsentinel.com Having listened to the recording without reference to the liner notes, it was surprising to discover just how much of the underlying meaning was evident from the music and it's interpretation alone. That is the mark of a great performance, and on that basis I couldn't recommend Flotilla more highly. Order this CD now and prepare to embark on a musical voyage of discovery. Alison Owen-Morley, Clarinet and Saxophone Magazine UK 'It's a terrific recording and I highly recommend it.' Susan Fancher, Saxophone Journal.