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on 12 November 2004
The blend of saxophone, soprano voice and church organ creates the sound world of Sanctuary, together with a mixed voice choir for some of the pieces. The quality of the performances combined with an imaginative mix of material create an album of haunting and evocative music.
Christian Forshaw draws on his experiences both as a chorister and as a contemporary classical saxophonist in his conception. The saxophone has long been regarded as having a vocal quality and able to blend well with the voice; Forshaw exploits this quality to maximum effect. His control of the entire extended range of the alto and soprano saxophones is superb and the resulting sound is one of purity and intensity. Aimee Green sings without vibrato and her natural voice combines perfectly with the saxophone - the quality of the ensemble and intonation is consistently high.
The choice of material is diverse and has a distinctly English flavour. There are arrangements of pieces by Ralph Vaughn Williams and John Ireland (the harmonic extension of the latter arranged by Christian Forshaw and James Pearson is intriguing), arrangements of Renaissance music, and three pieces composed by Christian Forshaw. Improvisation is integrated into the music - it is used more as a texture rather than as a feature and fits into the overall sound well. The organ provides a sensitive and majestic backdrop to Forshaw's improvisation and the blend of sounds between organ and saxophone in the ensemble sections creates an interesting synthesis. The addition of the Choir of Kings College, London adds further a further textural dimension to Forshaw's original pieces; these pieces are thematically strong and contain a wide range of emotions, from the soaring melody of the Magnificat to the foreboding of the Nunc Dimittis.
The overall effect of this album is of cohesion and quality; the music is thoughtful, questioning and contemplative.
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on 10 June 2012
I have now had Christian Forshaw's CD, 'Sanctuary' for a couple of years, and given it relatively little attention. This is partly because it is difficult to know quite how to pigeon-hole it, and one does need the time to sit down and concentrate. Over time, and having now listened carefully to it several times, I have come to the conclusion that this is a quite exceptional work, wonderfully atmospheric, with complex and sometimes surprising harmonics.

It is impossible to describe the effect you get when you combine Aimee Green's wonderful voice, Forshaw's sublime saxophony and the subtle tones of the backing church organ. The treatment of hymns by Ireland, Vaughan Williams and Machaut takes them all to a new level. And Forshaw's own compositions are quite lovely, breathing a serenity and measured pace that is both relaxing and uplifting at the same time.

A beautiful album, highly recommended. I note that someone else has made the connection with Jan Garbarek's Officium Novum, and I think that it is fair to make that kind of parallel - although this does sound more quintessentially English, whereas Garbarek's work possesses more of that nordic bleakness to the sound.
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on 16 April 2005
I have never bought any music like this before, and having heard only one track, I gambled that the rest might be good too! It is wonderful. The quality of Christian Forshaw's musical skills is like heaven! The diversity of music on the C.D. makes it very interesting to play and replay. A relaxing, gentle artist, beautiful to listen to, sending shivers down the spine!
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on 9 November 2004
I was lucky enough to see a live concert by Forshaw and King's College Choir a while ago and really enjoyed it. The album more than lived up to my expectations...if you've not heard his work it's a very distinctive combination of singing, sax and organs. You will not be disappointed and it would make a great Christmassy present!
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on 5 November 2004
A really great album. Christian Forshaw has put together music using familiar tunes but in highly original settings. His treatment of the Guillaume de Marchaut chorale 'J'ain la flour' is particularly beautiful. For those of you that are unsure how the sax will sit against the more traditional choral/organ religious sound world..... neither was I.....but was VERY pleasantly surprised. There was something 'vocal' and soulful about Christian Forshaw's playing that took the choral and organ writing to another level. His Nunc Dimittis is particularly inspiring. Great stuff!!
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on 16 February 2012
This was new to me, but now I am entranced by Christian Forshaw's work.

Saxophone, organ, acoustics of a Mediaeval Cathedral - with human voice - this music is ethereal, mind and mood enhancing, uplifting, and on first hearing takes you right up into the rosy dawn clouds and far away. I could wax poetic here.
It is a form of poetry, way beyond the noise we endure down here on Earth.
Mind-blowing drugs?! Forget them - here is your need fulfilled at a touch.
I recommend it to anyone at any time for its sheer beauty.
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on 20 July 2008
When I first heard this CD I thought there were some similarities to Jan Garbarek's "Officium". There is contemporary/classical feel to the collection which works extremely well. The clarity and purity Aimee Green's soprano voice is stunning and "Mortal Flesh" which was the original reason I purchased the CD, is splendid and the layering and simplicity of the music behind her voice is superb.

As a lover of classical music generally, this album worked very well for me. Equally, my husband, who is a jazz lover, liked it too for the saxaphone playing. I would think there is something in this collection to suit almost every music lover's taste.
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on 23 October 2013
Strange as it may sound, this combination of saxaphone, organ and astonishingly pure voice is haunting, beautiful and deeply spiritual. At times it is almost bleak - in the same way as some of Taverner's music may be perceived like this, but at others it is warm, lyrical and very uplifting. Unique and wonderful.
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on 6 April 2010
This is a must have CD. Forshaw is a master of the saxaphone and creates the most remarkable music you can imagine. His Christmas disc is a real triumph with musis that inspires and melts you in one sitting. True tallent.
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on 18 May 2015
Having been introduced to this music at a Diocesan retreat day I have appreciated the whole of the CD personally. I have also used it in church Services which has led onto others buying it for themselves.
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