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Equinox 'Partial Eclipse' CD review from CASS

Equinox at Chatsworth
Equinox at Chatsworth

Clarinet and Saxophone Journal
Spring 2008

Partial Eclipse is the first CD by Equinox Saxophone Ensemble, formed by Alistair Parnell in 2005. The album comprises a mixture of original music in a variety of styles, arrangements of baroque works and pieces originally written for wind band. Between them, the nine members of the group play all saxophones from sopranino to bass, with electronic wind instrument (EWI) and piano also featuring in true Alistair Parnell style.

Deserving of special mention is the title track, commissioned from Nigel Wood for the ensemble and featuring a nimble fingered Alistair on EWI, its melodic writing lending itself perfectly to the instrument's flexibility and wistful tone. Keiron Anderson's Closure is atmospheric with its sustained building chords and a jaunty hornpipe, while Cinerama by James Rae sees the ensemble taking on the identity of an old Wurlitzer with exaggerated vibrato effects.

The Albinoni Oboe Concerto, showcasing Nicola Pennill's talents as both arranger and soloist, translates well to saxophones and includes some effective ornamentation in the Adagio. Similarly, the Vivaldi Concerto shows sensitive soprano interpretation of the slow movement, bookended by spirited allegros. Grainger's folksongs are skilfully arranged by Alistair and work particularly well for the all-saxophone line-up, as does Jon Halton's arrangement of Moondance. Boris Goes to Dublin by Alun Cook is lively and tuneful, located somewhere between Russia and Ireland.

With a total of 18 tracks and over an hour of music this CD offers a comprehensive overview of the different soundscapes of a saxophone ensemble. All the pieces are tuneful and accessible, and would offer an excellent introduction for audiences unfamiliar with the saxophone and its repertoire.

Alison Owen-Morley

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