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Philip Glass & Michael Nyman: Works for Saxophone Quartet / sonic.art

Audio Samples

>Glass, Philip : Quartet for Strings no 3 ("Mishima")
>Glass, Philip : Saxophone Quartet, for 4 saxophones
>Nyman, Michael [Piano] : Songs for Tony

Album Summary

>Glass, Philip : Quartet for Strings no 3 ("Mishima")
>Glass, Philip : Saxophone Quartet, for 4 saxophones
>Nyman, Michael [Piano] : Songs for Tony
Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Electric - or perhaps more fittingly electrifying - are the sounds emanating from the loudspeakers. And all of it is unplugged. The sounds are created by sonic.art - not only one of the finest saxophone quartets but also perhaps the most compelling chamber music formation anywhere. With works by Philip Glass and Michael Nyman (composer known for his soundtrack for the film The Piano), this release will gain more attention for the ensemble in North America. Since its inception in 2005, the sonic.art saxophone quartet has created a fervor at German and international concert venues, thrilling music-lovers and music critics alike. The quartet enthusiastically performs works which in almost all cases originally composed for their instruments and initiates the creation of new works in collaboration with composers. Among its commendations are First Prize and the Grand Prize of the International Chamber Music Competition for New Music in Cracow, Poland, the German Music Competition Award and the Switzerland's Classical Music Award.

Fanfare Magazine - Ronald E. Grames
The engineering provided by Genuin is close and extremely clean, in keeping with the quartet's style. Purists are warned by the informative notes that the pauses for breathing were edited out of the Third Quartet recording rather than using circular breathing, as would be done in a concert setting. There are alternatives for those seeking a particular Glass work: the more supple Oasis Saxophone Quartet recording of the "Mishima" Quartet (Fanfare 34:6) is nicely matched with works by Gotkovsky and Escaich. Note however that the finale is even faster than Sonic Art's, and thereby misses the melancholy. Fine recordings of the Saxophone Concerto have been offered by Tetraphonics (Cybèle, Fanfare 32:6), Amstel (Concert Artists Guild, Fanfare 33:5), and the more reflective but brilliant Raschèr on Glass's own Orange Mountain Music label. Those attracted to this particular trio of works, however, will find the new release highly satisfactory; it is recommended with only the above few qualifications.

American Record Guide, July / August 2012
In Glass's Saxophone Quartet - really an arrangement of his concerto for sax quartet and orchestra - the playing easily outshines the performances of the Rascher Quartet, who premiered the work and played it hundreds of times (Sept/Oct 2008). The sonic.art performance is less spastic and accented, which makes the music sound more urbane.

Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Alexander Doroshkevich (alto saxophone); Annegret Schmiedl (baritone saxophone).

Recording information: Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany (02/28/2011-03/01/2011).



Reviews

New Wave Rave
Fans of modern music looking for something new should give a listen to the Sonic Art Saxophone Quartet, which sounds like nothing else on the alt-classical landscape. The four members of this tight little outfit conjure an amazing range of tonalities and timbres, far beyond what one might consider possible on the saxophone. The unusual instrumentation proves particularly apt for adventurous composers like Philip Glass and Michael Nyman, who are featured on this disc. The groupís powerful yet supple sound perfectly evokes Nymanís poignant lyricism and the nervous intensity of Glassí passive-aggressive sonic structures. Intricate, beautiful and hypnotic, this music will take the listener on unexpected and joyous journeys.
Submitted on 02/18/12 by Dean Brierly 
Philip Glass/Michael Nyman/ Sonic. Art Sax Quartet/Genuin
Glass String Quartet#3 1985
The first problem with transcribing a string quartet to a sax quartet is the breathing. Fortunately, this was solved with overdubbing Ėwhich gives this Sonic Art Quartet performance an unworldly, superhuman-circular-breathing quality. The dynamic shaping of the contours is very smooth and the articulations are really beautifully executed. The gorgeous mp < repeated notes are particularly seductive. All the rhythmic figures and arpeggiations are delicately tight and never clunky, as Glass is sometimes performed. Itís difficult to imagine this music sounding any better, no matter what the instrumentation.

The music itself consists of 6 short movements (all under 3 and Ĺ minutes) in Ďla stile de Glassí. Each movement has very contrasting tempi and textural preoccupations. This is what one might call middle period Glass in that the music is very fixed on pulse, rhythm and harmonic-rhythm and not as lyrical as the 90ís output.

Glass Sax Quartet 1995
This work is definitely in the later period Glass bin. More lyrical, more contrapuntal, more canonic passages, more instrumental color, more formal complexity and juxtapositions. As he gets older his music is more eclectic-it takes a long time to nail down if itís Glass or not. The 2nd movement with all itís jazz counterpoint, tuttish heads, and bold modulations would stump any name that composer/tune contest. The 3rd movement returns to his gothic quality often copied by film composers (Danny Elfman springs to mind) but still is a long way from the endless arpeggiations of the early work. The lyricism comes in very short repeated phrases that have a really, un-self-conscious, Satieish stillness. The fourth movement has a Michael Torke kick to it. (Itís interesting how the post-minimalist have bit the old minimalists in the behind.) This piece is way more Americana, Copland/Bernstein than Nyman or Adams ever were or will be.

Michael Nyman Sax Quartet 1993
Suddenly we are in the thick of European, specifically Dutch minimalism. The 1st movements rhythmic interlocking is more intricate, the harmonic progressions more conservative, and the writing has Bach-like counterpoint through out. The 2nd movement continues with a Bach underpinning in the harmony and use of pedals. Movement 3 is a little more lyrical. Nyman has a kind of English vaudeville side that creeps in and out (not unlike Paul McCartney), which is at once very naive and kind of sweet. I feel this especially in his soundtrack work, which are paradoxically great and annoying. The final movement is slow and dirge-likeóthink the Chopin funeral march. Here, Nyman style is very assured --when heís not mildly vaudevillian or 18th C., Heís very detached and cool. It seems his greatest preoccupation is harmonic design---everything else musical is subordinate to this concern-which has always given his music a very pure, cerebral quality.

Submitted on 02/19/12 by Mike Maguire 
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Works Details

>Glass, Philip : Quartet for Strings no 3 ("Mishima")
  • Ensemble: Sonic.Art Saxophonquartett
  • Notes: Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany (02/28/2011-03/01/2011)
  • Running Time: 14 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1985

>Glass, Philip : Saxophone Quartet, for 4 saxophones
  • Ensemble: Sonic.Art Saxophonquartett
  • Notes: Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany (02/28/2011-03/01/2011)
  • Running Time: 21 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1995

>Nyman, Michael [Piano] : Songs for Tony
  • Ensemble: Sonic.Art Saxophonquartett
  • Notes: Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany (02/28/2011-03/01/2011)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1993