Title - 'Rise'
Artist - Jess Gillam
For those not in the know, the young British saxophonist Jess Gillam has acquired a burgeoning presence in the UK music scene; starting from her reaching the finals of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, and building up to her appearance at the 2018 Last Night of the Proms, which proved a breakout moment for her, in terms of cultural recognition.
Now Gillam has debuted at the top of the Official UK Classical Chart with her critically-acclaimed album Rise, released on April 26th, 2019 on Decca Classics.
This remarkable achievement makes Gillam the youngest saxophonist ever to hit the No.1 spot of the classical charts.
An instrument which is often forgotten in the classical world, the 20-year-old star has brought the saxophone into the spotlight, and back to the top of the charts.
This totally unique album showcases Gillam's phenomenal talent as well as her diverse musical taste, with tracks ranging from John Williams and Shostakovich to David Bowie and Kate Bush.
1. Pedro Iturralde - 'Pequeña Czarda'
2. Kate Bush - 'This Woman's Work'
3. Alessandro Marcello - 'Adagio'
4. Darius Milhaud - 'Brazileira'
5. John Williams - 'Closing In'
6. Michael Nyman - 'If'
7. John Harle - 'RANT!'
8. David Bowie - 'Where Are We Now?'
9. Kurt Weill - 'Je ne t'aime pas'
10. John Dowland - 'Flow My Tears (featuring Miloš, guitar)
11. Rudy Wiedoeft - 'Valse Vanité'
12. Dmitri Shostakovich - 'Waltz 2'
13. Traditional - 'Dark Eyes'
14. Francis Lai - 'Love Story - Theme' (Bonus Track)
This quite stunning, elegant album opens with the playful 'Pequeña Czarda' from Iturralde (the liner notes by Jessica Duchen comment that this track has actually become Gillam's signature piece now) and then brings us the stirring, low key 'This Woman's Work' from Bush, with the stirring beauty of 'Adagio (Oboe Concerto in D Minor)' by Marcello next.
The fast-paced, at times delightfully nearly tripping over itself 'Brazileira (Scaramouche, suite for saxophone & piano (or orchestra), Op. 165c)' by Milhaud is one of my own personal favorites here and that's backed by Williams' 'Closing In' (from Escapades and also adapted from his score for the film 'Catch Me If You Can') and the sweeping 'If' from The Diary of Anne Frank by Nyman.
The sternly playful 'RANT!' by Harle (which was actually composed by Harle as a musical salute to and portrait of Gillam) is a piece that sounds like it might well have been Gillam's toughest work to master, given all it's breathless tucks and bounds and that's followed by Bowie's haunting The Next Day (2013) album track 'Where Are We Now?'
The gentleness of 'Je ne t'aime pas' by German Jewish composer Weill is perfectly paired with the reflective 'Flow my Tears' featuring Miloš on guitar (from Dowland's Second Booke of Songes, 1600), the delightful sax and piano duet 'Valse Vanité' by Wiedoeft next.
The album then rounds out with Shostakovich's twirling ballroom musical wonderment 'Waltz 2' (from his Suite for Variety Orchestra and which was also included in the film 'Eyes Wide Shut'), the ethereal Traditional track 'Dark Eyes,' and then the Bonus Track is the sentimentally lush 'Love Story – Theme' from Lai.
On hearing of her chart success, the young star said: “If someone had told me – when I first picked up a saxophone in the Barracudas Carnival Band in Barrow-on-Furness – that I would get a classical number one for my first album release, I wouldn’t have believed them in a million years!"
“It has been so exciting to record my debut with the team at Decca Classics, and special thanks to the producer John Harle, BBC Concert Orchestra and Miloš for being a part of Rise."
"Music has been such an important part of my life and the tracks included on the album are very personal to me, so it’s overwhelming that there has been such an amazing response to it so far."
Amazon CD Purchase Link