Seen and Heard International, Simon Thompson

When most music lovers think of the Edinburgh Festival they think of big touring opera productions, visiting orchestras at the Usher Hall or superstar recitalists at the Queen’s Hall; but if you look beyond the confines of the EIF and into the Fringe, then you’ll often find a lot of very high quality music out there too.

Every year at the Fringe, Edinburgh’s branch of the Royal Overseas’ League, at the prestigious address of 100 Princes Street, hosts a series of intimate concerts featuring artists who are on the way up. For those in the know, these are highly desirable tickets, and it helps that they serve refreshments afterwards! I’ve never been disappointed by a concert I’ve attended here, and they’re often pretty experimental in their repertoire.

So it proved with Ferio Saxophone Quartet’s morning concert in their Bach for Breakfast series. It turns out that Bach suits the saxophone rather well!  The Italian Concerto bounded along with tremendous energy, with a soaring soprano line for the central aria, and their chosen prelude from the Well Tempered Clavier was dazzling, as was the G minor prelude and fugue.  Perhaps the instruments suited their choice of Renaissance vocal movements even better. Byrd’s Ave Verum soared richly, and their arrangement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater integrated the famous walking bass into the rest of the texture very successfully.