Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Foot tappingly good music from one of the best things to emerge from the Fringe this year.
St Mark’s Artspace is a building of real distinction. Whilst its location in Castle Terrace is bit off the beaten track in terms of Fringe venues, it’s almost worth the trek out there for the architecture alone. Filling the space with the rich tones of Sax Collective, though, makes the journey one of the joys of this year’s Fringe.
Take four charismatic saxophonists, musical genre from grand opera to Irish jigs, mix with some vivacious choreography and amusing patter and you’ve the perfect receipt for an hour of uplifting entertainment. Opening with Glenn Miller’s “Little Brown Jug”, the quartet appear from the four corners of the building, the sound building to a joyous interpretation of this well known piece. They followed that with 12th Street Rag and the theme from the film, The Pink Panther, complete with costumes.
They changed the pace and the mood cleverly with a trio of Russian folk songs before moving into a stirring rendition of the Mexican Hat Dance, with a further trio of tunes woven into the main medley. Flipping the mood again, they turned to opera and The Barber of Seville before an energetic interpretation of Flight of the Bumble Bee provided further evidence of their power as an ensemble. This, in turn, led us to a series of pieces that allowed each to display their considerable talents as a soloist.
Sophie Parkhouse (soprano), Ryan Searle (tenor), Rob Downing (baritone) and special guest for the Fringe run Ellie Stevenson (alto) are evidently very gifted and versatile all round musicians. Technique, definition, tonal quality and overall balance are superb which resulted in a wonderfully rich sound, enhanced by the stunning surroundings in which they played. But what marks them apart from so many acts is the obvious and highly infectious joy with which they perform, joy that quickly spread its way around the audience as one foot tapping number followed another.
And they just can’t keep still either. Neat choreography was a feature of many of their numbers and the engaging patter did a lot more than advise the audience of what was coming next. The hour passed all too quickly as they finished off with an intriguing Celtic Suite of three engagingly different movements. And not being able to settle on what to play for an encore, they simply wrapped the William Tell Overture around snatches from at least twenty other numbers to give the audience a rousing send off.
St Mark’s may be in the shadow of the brightly lit big Fringe venues, but it’s harbouring the hidden gem of the Fringe. Sublime rhyme and sound. Check it out.