Record Review: De Profundis - Xelo Giner

Guest reviewer and award winning composer George Richford reviews De Profundis - Xelo Giner

I enjoyed every single second of this disc. Represented here are some of the most arresting experimental works for Saxophone by Stockhausen and Kurtag. Alongside these avant-garde giants are works by Parra, Steen-Andersen, Perales and Berbis, all of whom stretch the possibilities of writing for the instrument. Showcased here are works for solo saxophone (soprano, baritone, tenor) as well as combinations including percussion, violin, solo voice and electronics.

This is highly virtuosic playing of intelligence, wit, imagination and nuance. The pieces with electronics are arresting - even terrifying at times and demand the fullest attention. Giner is surely one of the most accomplished and exciting practitioners in the world today and her commitment to contemporary music is a glittering advert for the compositional possibilities of the Saxophone family.

The sound is impeccable, although somewhat unusually the mic placement changes throughout the disc. On the one hand, there is intimacy in the sound - almost to the point of blushing - and at other times a more distant halo of sound captures a monastic sense of time and space - the melodic cries of the saxophone almost morph into plainsong in Kurtag’s In Nomine and in Parra’s affecting Chymisch. This is not a criticism of the engineering process - far from it; the music in all of its eclectic eccentricity demands a flexible approach and what has been achieved here faithfully serves.

I listened to this disc on Philips Fidelio X2HR through a Parasound Zdac v.2 Headphone amp.

The disc is available to purchase through Naxos, and Presto Classical, or on all major streaming services.

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