- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted February 19, 2012
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 –which 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. It’s 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 ½ minutes) in ‘la stile de Glass’. 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 90’s 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 it’s Glass or not. The 2nd movement with all it’s 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. (It’s 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-like—think the Chopin funeral march. Here, Nyman style is very assured --when he’s not mildly vaudevillian or 18th C., He’s 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.
Posted February 18, 2012
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 group’s powerful yet supple sound perfectly evokes Nyman’s poignant lyricism and the nervous intensity of Glass’ passive-aggressive sonic structures. Intricate, beautiful and hypnotic, this music will take the listener on unexpected and joyous journeys.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.