The "sonic.art saxophon quartet" is a young, virtuoso group from Germany, and winnners of the 2008 "German Music Competition" which identifies new artists that promote and specialize in contemporary music. Their debut CD on the Genuin label, is of uniform high quality. The performances of a wide range of repertoire are all of amazing technical virtuosity and fascinating in their variety. The audio engineering in top notch also, capturing a set of timbres and dynamic that can, just as easily, come off garbled or strident. The music is all rare finds. The Ligeti "Six Bagatelles", with its tight ensemble playing and exciting, tonal construct is an exciting, accessible example of early Ligeti and Fabien Levy's "Through".. from 1968 is a bundle of pulsing, nervous energy and attractive throughout. Equally captivating is the Tuur "Lamentatio", written to commemorate a ferry disaster in the north sea off Estonia and is, characteristically, eerie and sadly unsettling. The selelections by Georg Katzer ("Like a breath, yet sometimes...") and Olga Neuwirth, "Ondate" are very interesting as well, mostly for some eyebrow raising extended techniques and extreme altissimo playing. As the package notes point out, not everyone will be able to get around the complex block dissonances and cerebral listening required for the Iannis Xenakis "Xas" but the group sounds like one, chordal "mega-sax" throughout. This disc is utterly amazing for fans of high quality saxophone playing as well as for those who wish to become familiar with some new, lesser known names in European contemporary composition, such as Katzer, Levy and Neuwirth. The Ligeti and Tuur are a revelation for those who only know their much larger works. Highly recommended!
Submitted on 03/03/10 by Dan Coombs