You have never heard anything this cool in your life!
Nigel Wood is the world's preeminent soprillo saxophone player. The tiniest of all saxophones, the soprillo has sometimes been regarded as something of a toy, but this recording illustrates just how wrong we have been. This CD has a wide array of settings, all of which demonstrate how versatile the soprillo can be in the hands of an artist. I was amazed at the sheer mastery Nigel has in the extreme upper range. You can drive nails with this horn, but he never uses it as a weapon. As I enjoyed this CD, I kept visualizing Nigel's performances as if he was using the finest paint brush to add the final details to a musical masterpiece. Kudos on your success in taming the soprillo, capable of as full a breadth of expression as any other saxophone. You don't have to be a musician, scholar, or music critic in order to understand and appreciate this music! This CD is enjoyable for any type of listener.
Farrell Vernon , May 1, 2014
Just got my copy of Soprillogy a few days ago and have been listening to it constantly. Nigel's playing is gorgeous, the program is wonderful--with some really touching and beautiful pieces of music--and the sound of the soprillo is enchanting. All in all, this is going to be on my favorites list for years to come.
Roger - soprillo.com, 26.12.12
Saxophonist Nigel Wood studied music as an undergraduate student at Birmingham Conservatoire in the United Kingdom. Upon graduating, he not only became active as a freelance musician, but also became on of the first specialist professors of saxophone at the Conservatoire. He later became a founder member of a saxophone quartet called Saxtet, and began composing as well as publishing music for the saxophone. His music has been performed world-wide by such artists and ensembles as John Harle, Gerard McChrystal, Arno Bornkamp, and the BBC Concert Orchestra, among others. After two decades of focusing his time and energy managing his publishing business, Wood's renaissance as a performer began with the establishment of the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain in 2003. Wood is currently the Choir's musical director and its soprillo chair, as well as soloist. This CD is the beginning of his work in establishing a body of repertoire for the soprillo.
The soprillo is the culmination of six, or so, years of work by instrument builder Benedikt Eppelsheim. Thirteen inches in length and similarly built, but not exactly, to the other members of the saxophone family, the soprillo is in B-flat and sounds an octave higher than the soprano saxophone. While the first soprillo was complete in 1998, it was not until 2002 that the instrument began to be noticed and used with some level of regularity, in solo as well as ensemble performances.
Having not heard a soprillo, many listeners may approach spinning this CD with some trepidation and caution. However, it will only take the listener a few minutes of he opening cut to realize the beauty of the soprillo's sound, the flowing lyricism of the music, as well as the quality of the performance.
Soprillogy contains fifteen compositions, either arranged and/or written for the soprillo, with each composition showcasing the soprillo's unique attributes in the most favourable way.
The CD beings appropriately with Duende, by Craig Rickards, an up-beat composition driven by jazz-like rhythms in the saxophone and piano. Wood and Taylor immediately catch the listener's attention with the precision of ensemble and ability to sing on their instruments.
Where Spirits & Demons Dance is the second cut on the CD and is one of three works by Nigel Wood. The other two are Schwarzer Tanzer and Song for Vinny. While each composition has its own unique character, each piece is carefully crafted and includes lyrical passages for the soprillo. Wood's soprillo sound sings warmly on these compositions, and his pitch is very good throughout the range, especially when the pieces climb to the upper extremes of the soprillo.
Two pieces influenced by the music of the tango and Astor Piazzolla are I Dance for You by Karen Street, and A Matter of Life or Death by Jonathan Taylor. I Dance for You is the first piece on the CD with accordion, and is a nice touch for this Piazzolla-influenced composition. Accordionist and composer, Karen Street, also does a nice job of incorporating just the right flavor into this piece with her accordion, while Wood's interpretation is passionate and energetic, as well as lyrical whenever necessary.
Three pieces with a Baroque-like influence, among other influences, are Baroquelochness by Daniel Schnyder, Claude Bolling's Fugace from his 1973 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, and Chaconnita e Fugato by Ulrich Schultheiss. Each composition is wonderfully delightful, as well as technically challenging, and performed with an appropriately light touch in tone and articulation by Wood.
Milina, by Igor Krivokapic, Farewell Waltz by Craig Rickards, and Fujiko, by Andy Scott, are three beautifully lyrical and gentle compositions on this CD that fully display the soprillo's lyricism throughout the instrument's range. Wood performs these compositions with evenness of tone quality and a mastery of control, regardless of the range he is performing.
Waltzing Soprillda, by Philip Buttall, is possibly the first piece written for the soprillo. Obviously influenced by one of Australia's most well-known folk-songs, Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Soprillda is a hugely fun, tongue-in-cheek, tour de force for the performer as it contains a bit of everything, including technique, range, and intervallic skips for the soprillo to perform, which Wood has no problem negotiating.
This CD is a perfect introduction to the soprillo as it contains delightful music, in a variety of styles, for the soprillo to perform, as well as a performer in Wood, who is more than capable of bringing the best out of the instrument with mastery, control and elegance. The musicians on this CD are Nigel Wood, soprillo; Jonathan Taylor, piano; Karen Street, accordion; and Tanya Houghton, harp.
Frank Bongiorno - American Saxophone Journal, Vol 33, No 6, August 2009
A thrilling album. Left me breathless at times with Nigel's compelling virtuosity. Some lovely lyrical music too and I like the variety of accompaniment and style. I'd never heard of a soprillo before but now I feel I know it inside out. What a great idea to make such a unique recording.
Heather Cox, CD Baby.com, 2009
This is the world's first ever soprillo CD, released just 10 years after the first soprillo was created by its inventor, Benedikt Eppelsheim. All the material has been composed or arranged specifically for this recording, and includes some of Nigel Wood's own compositions as well as contributions from names such as Andy Scott, Karen Street and Ulrich Schultheiss. The pieces are scored for soprillo with piano, or occasionally accordion or harp, and feature a range of accessible contemporary styles.
Half the length of a soprano saxophone and sounding an octave higher, the soprillo is a piccolo equivalent, but what struck me on first listening was not the high pitch but the quality of performance and unexpected warmth of tone - in fact you almost don't notice the pitch. The playing is technically brilliant, with a lovely rounded tone, impeccable tuning, (no mean feat on something that looks as though it may have come out of a Christmas cracker!), and some nifty fingerwork.
The CD is full of expressive melodies and expressive playing. There are pastoral melodies and spirited melodies, catchy tunes and epic tunes, and many of the pieces are linked by a dance theme, jazz flavour or filmic quality. Nigel's Schwarzer Tanzer features flowing melodic lines, measured vibrato and effortless production of the top notes. Where Spirits and Demons Dance displays perfectly judged leaps between registers and electric trills. Fingers fly in the jazzy mock-Baroque fugal pieces while Andy Scott's Fujiko conjures up a Japanese landscape, calm and exquisite, simple yet intricate.
I Dance for You and A Matter of Life and Death reveal the tango's poignancy and passion, matched by the sad introspection of the Farewell Waltz, with its contrasting slow and fast moving passages and great control on the long notes. Walzing Soprillda, a light-hearted romp through various styles on the theme of Walzing Matilda, is a virtuoso tour de force pulled off with panache and style. Song for Vinny is a beautiful ballad, sensitively played, finishing the recording literally on a high note.
This landmark CD provides an excellent introduction to the instrument, and an insight into the different facets of the soprillo personality, from thoughtful to exuberant. With this recording, Nigel Wood has reached dizzy heights, establishing the soprillo as a bona fide musical instrument alongside the more familiar members of the saxophone family, and proving that small really is beautiful.
Alison Owen-Morley, Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine, Vol 34, No. 1, Spring 2009
This would be a landmark recording for any new instrument.
An astonishing display of technical bravura, displaying outstanding musicianship and a fearless head for heights.
This soprillo saxophone recital album is unlikely ever to be surpassed in its quality.
Richard Ingham - Editor of the Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone, 22.8.08
The cd is a masterpiece. Congratulations and thanks.
Snake Davis - soprillo.com, 27.09.08
This new album by Nigel Wood is the first album to feature the soprillo saxophone in its entirety. At an octave higher than the soprano, the soprillo is a unique and enchanting sounding addition to the saxophone family. Soprillogy is an engaging and accessible album featuring new music especially composed for the instrument.
Feature alongside Nigel Wood are Jonathon Taylor (piano), Karen Street (accordion), and Tanya Houghton (harp). The music presented spans various genres and is characterized by a cheerful at times humorous outlook and an eclectic spirit. One criticism I will make on the choice of music is that the whole album is a series of duets. I felt that there were interesting textures possible in a piece using all four musicians. The highlight of the album for me is a duet with accordion entitled Fujiko which showcases the more contemplative side of both instruments.
The soprillo's sound is very interesting. The low register sounds similar to the soprano, but it gains more focus and brightness as it moves towards the high register. In long lines the instrument is capable of a haunting sound not unlike that of the violin.
The playing throughout Soprillogy is of a very high standard - Wood does an admirable job of navigating the difficulties of playing the soprillo in tune, and the ensemble playing is very together with a strong sense of style and a unified direction.
The production is also of a high standards with a good sound and mixing, and a professional presentation.
In closing, Soprillogy is a pioneering album and a successful introduction to the soprillo saxophone as a solo instrument. Hopefully it will inspire further research by performers, composers and instrument makers into the possibilities of the instrument.
Timothy Franklin - Australian Clarinet and Saxophone, Volume 11, No. 4, Summer 2008
The Eppelsheim Soprillo is such a new instrument that there is not much performance history to provide a reference or a benchmark. This recording solves that problem. The Soprillo, while difficult to play, is not an impossible instrument, and Nigel Wood has gone past its difficulties and uses this incredible instrument to play music on the highest level, no pun intended. This is a wonderful CD.
Randy Emerick - CD baby.com, 17.11.08
Soprillogy is a truly moving, energetic and passionate album. I can't imagine I will ever hear a soprillo played any better than this and if I do I want a lesson from them!
Gerard McChrystal, 06.09.08
Soprillogy is a delightful introduction to music for the Soprillo, the world's smallest saxophone. The items chosen are freshly varied in style, with different instruments to partner the Soprillo, making an inspiring and comprehensive program. Nigel Wood's playing is always compelling. It is intensely lyrical, virtuostic and full of that ability to sweep along an eager listener. The sensitive performances and contrasting items on this new CD will surely make Soprillogy an important ikon for the specialist, general listener, and student alike.
Mary Gilmartin - CD baby.com, 2008
I have tried to play a soprillo and it's an absolute monster!! Nigel Wood's achievement should not be underestimated, he is absolutely brilliant and has produced an extraordinary and thrilling album.
Dave - CD Baby.com, 2008
I have Soprillogy-WONDERFUL recording! Congratulations on giving us the 1st LP strictly for Soprillo!
Joseph Dorsch - soprillo.com, 18.09.08
Had Soprillogy CD for over a week now. Amazing! Deceptivly uncomplicated compositions and arrangements at first listening, but the more you listen the more incredible it is! Brilliant
Chas - soprillo.com, 30.09.08
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