An Ending (Ascent)
Mortal Flesh [arr. Craig McLeish]
The Mission – Main Theme
She Moved Through The Fair
Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom – We Praise Thee [arr. Tolga Kashif]
Tyler Rix (soprano saxophone)
Howard McGill (alto saxophone)
Recorded at Olympic Studios, Air Studios, and “The Bunker”, London [no recording dates supplied]
Reviewed by: Chris Caspell
Reviewed: February 2009
CD No: UNIVERSAL MUSIC CLASSICS & JAZZ
Duration: 52 minutes
Given the plethora of “search for a star” talent contests that adorn British television at present it would be easy to miss any one particular victim, in particular a runner-up. 16-year-old saxophonist Tyler Rix was discovered when he took part in “Classical Star” on BBC 2 – a programme generally panned for being populist and for lacking critical expertise. Rix was however singled out by the judges as “a natural musician” with Charles Hazlewood prophesying that “it wouldn’t take a great deal of effort to make a very distinctive, marketable presence for Tyler around the globe”. Universal Classics & Jazz obviously had the same thought and has put together a rather sumptuous disc of relaxing, yet unfamiliar music that has been arranged sympathetically for Rix’s recorded debut.
The disc opens with Brian Eno’s An Ending (Ascent) from which the album gets its title. Largely known as the keyboard player in Roxy Music, Eno has done so much more since his 1970s’ chart success. Accepted as the father of ambient music, his style is eclectic as his work with David Bowie and even as the composer of the 3.25-second start-up sound of the Microsoft Windows 95 operating system (ironically composed on an Apple Macintosh) clearly shows.
That Tyler Rix easily lends himself to be a part of the whole is an endearing aspect of his musicianship. Christian Forshaw’s “reinterpretation” of the much-loved hymn “Let all mortal flesh keep silence” is a delightful realisation that would be reason enough to purchase this release. In this arrangement by Craig McLeish, Rix’s clear counterpoint is hauntingly entwined with the chorus’s hymn.
At times the familiar comes into view – Ennio Morricone’s theme from “The Mission”, and “Eliza’s Aria”, to name but two (the latter will be recognised by those in the UK as the theme that accompanies the Lloyds TSB advertising campaign). Strangely the two most familiar ‘classical’ pieces – Pachelbel’s Canon and Barber’s Adagio for Strings (or, as here, his choral “Agnus Dei” re-write) – work less well. Canon sounds lumpy due to the saxophone’s lack of agility – the three upper parts all played, through the benefit of recording techniques, by Rix – and the instrument adds little to the Barber. Both pieces should have been replaced with more-suitable choices.
The choir, Spiritus, joins Rix, so too an ‘orchestra’ termed as London Telefilmic, but there are no biographies for either. The general tempo of the pieces is, at best, moderately slow. Without a single note to disturb your slumber this release is ideal to unwind to at the end of a day, although don’t expect to get to the end of it if you close your eyes. Rix should now perform a more challenging programme; but, on the whole, here is an excellent first release for him and has much to commend it.