This extremely faithful recording could prove to be a new standard for listening to Bach's music for young listeners
Playing Bach's music on instruments other than the keyboard is nothing new. It isn't even all that unusual to hear Bach played on the saxophone anymore. However, what makes Bach-centric an unusual find is virtually veridical rendition by Dave Camwell. The accuracy and integrity of the music is of the highest standard.
Opening with Cantata 29, Dave plays all the various lines of music, typically played on a keyboard instrument, on the saxophone --various saxophones, with multiple takes. Not only is the virtuosity of the performance of any given lines brilliant, but the skill of playing each of these lines separately, yet so accurate as to create a single unified sound. It is one instrument, one musician, one glorious piece masterfully composed both by Bach and by Camwell.
This is followed by the Sonata in A minor. The solo lines are graceful dances that sing and yet capture what Bach must have intended. Even though the saxophone was not yet invented in Bach's time, I feel he would have written for this instrument if he could hear how Dave takes what Bach did write and reproduce it so remarkably well.
Dave is joined by Stephen Page for a series of two part inventions (BWV 772-786) with a delightfully clean interpretation. Each line takes importance or sub-ordinance as needed to highlight each without making either player too prominent.
For the Concerto in D minor, James Brute, Nathan Nabb and James Romain join Dave to create a saxophone ensemble. You'd never know the saxophone wasn't a baroque instrument with the clarity and intricacy they weave the lines of music together giving the music a reedy, brassy sound like only a saxophone can.
It's difficult to decide which track is the most amazing. The Ave Maria, arranged and performed by Dave Camwell, certainly has to rank among the options. The slow, lyric soprano saxophone taking the melody over the top an "ensemble" of saxophones (again, all played by Dave), is absolutely beautiful.
What collection of Bach pieces would be complete without including a fugue. Dave opted for Little Fugue in G Minor (BWV 578). He masterfully brings each line into play without every allowing the music to sound muddy of cluttered. Yes, some of this is to the amazing writing of J.S. Bach. But in Dave's version each saxophone is allowed to shine with it's own unique color giving an individuality to each line, while the collections of saxophones give a unity as well.
This is a delightful album, extremely well performed. Don't just consider this for your collection, but tell your friends. Bach-it-Forward!