Johann Sebastian Bach is revered by musicians and music-lovers around the world – the German weekly Die Zeit has described him as the “fount of all music”, and violinist Yehudi Menuhin had a very simple explanation for our continuing fascination with Bach’s works: “He represents something greater within us.” Classical saxophonist Asya Fateyeva has engaged with Bach’s oeuvre since her youth, albeit at a disadvantage to many of her colleagues – the Thomaskantor wrote no works for the saxophone. Not that this put off the young musician, voted Best Female Newcomer at ECHO Klassik 2016: her latest CD Bachiana featuring works by J.S. Bach and Heitor Villa-Lobos prove her to be not only a virtuosa of her instrument but also a gifted arranger. She is ably supported by the inspired Württemberg Chamber Orchestra of Heilbronn under its principal conductor Ruben Gazarian.
“Even when I was a child, I was really inspired by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. That was when I began to play the piano, later I switched to the saxophone – and his music was simply always there. I think every musician feels the same; Bach’s universal language knows no frontiers and when you come into contact with his music, you sense that you are in touch with eternity,” confesses Asya Fateyeva. The naturalness and authenticity of her Bach playing, coupled with the versatility of an instrument that lets her free the spirit of Bach’s compositions, results in wonderful interpretations on her new CD Bachiana of the G minor Concerto originally written for harpsichord and of the Violin Concerto in A minor and the Double Concerto for violin and oboe, where she is supported by violinist Erik Schumann. She also plays the aria “Ach bleibe doch, mein liebes Leben” (ah do but stay, my dear life) from the cantata Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen – a wonderful opportunity for Asya Fateyeva to show how melodious the saxophone can sound.
For her second release after her debut CD, which was devoted to original works for saxophone, Asya Fateyeva has complemented her Bach arrangements with another composition written expressly for her instrument. Bach is backed by Heitor Villa-Lobos: his Fantasia for soprano saxophone and chamber orchestra, here represented by string orchestra and three horns, was written in 1948 and is one of the Brazilian composer’s best known works. Bach it was who inspired Villa-Lobos’s cycle Bachianas Brasileiras, from which No. 5, originally composed for soprano and eight cellos, has been selected for this CD. With its sure sense of style and abundant resources of expressiveness, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra of Heilbronn under its principal conductor Ruben Gazarian is a constant companion to Asya Fateyeva – making Bachiana a recording that is as convincing and yet as surprising for Bach lovers as for saxophone fans.