Review of Anthony Brown (saxophone) and Leo Nicholson (piano) presenting a concert at the Hayward Theatre Ely on Friday 29th November 2013

It is impossible to get 100% in a music exam. After all it is so subjective. However, after tonight’s performance by these two amazing musicians, I had to agree that it is indeed feasible. All credit must go to Anthony Brown who demonstrated a phenomenal technique and highly musical approach to the saxophone, a much maligned instrument. He was accompanied by an equally talented pianist, Leo Nicholson and between them, they produced music that transfixed the listeners – it was so good. The synchronism they achieved was out of this world – no matter how tricky the run or the rests, they were always spot on.

The varied programme was action-packed and included works by Singelee, Piazzolla, Richard Rodney Bennett, Ibert, Maurice, Gershwin Debussy, Heath and Dubois. When the first saxophone flourish sounded we knew we were going to experience a wonderful concert. These two knew how to master the trickiest passages, the exacting articulation and the most sonorous  of passages. Highlights for me were Piazzolla’s ‘Histoire du Tango’: ‘Bordel 1900’ and ‘Cafe 1930’, Paule Maurice’s ‘Song for my Love’ and the ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ and ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ by Dubois.

‘Bordel 1900’ was the first of many pieces that exuded magical rhythms brilliantly synchronised by these two highly talented performers. The tonal beauty of the saxophone was fully explored in ‘Cafe 1930’. We were soon transported into the dreamy, relaxed coffee haze of a well frequented cafe.

The tonal beauty of the saxophone was again brought to the fore in ‘Song for my Love’ while the frenetic buzz of a very busy bumble bee in ‘The Flight of the Bumble Bee’ was noticeable as these amazing performers whizzed through the demanding passages.

Dubois’ clever composing in ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ was enhanced further by these musicians’ intense musical understanding. The languorous Tortoise, confident with his victory was well contrasted with the frantic energy of the fickle hare.

This was a wonderful concert and the encore was well deserved.

These two may be heard again in the Purcell room in London on the 9th January 2014. For more information contact www.anthonybrownsaxophone.com.

The next King’s School Ely Concert Society event will feature Tom Coulson (trumpet) and Christopher Baxter (piano) in the Recital Hall on Friday 17th January at 730 pm contact Lisa Bushell (01353 653931) email: music@kingsely.org

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