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Swedish Music

Stockholm Saxophone Quartet – Encores
Daniel NELSON (b.1965)

Full Throttle (1999)
Dror FEILER (b.1951)

Ki (1998)
Jonas BOHLIN (b.1963)

Deep Beeps (1998)
Karin REHNQVIST (b.1957)

Rädda mig ur dyn (1994)
Ingvar KARKOFF (b.1958)

Tzivaeri (1995)
Johan JEVERUD (b.1962)

Piece in Colours of Autumn (1989)
Erik FÖRARE (b.1955)

Tre dikter (1999)
Arne MELLNÄS (1933-2002)

No Roses For Madame F (1991)
Erland von KOCH (b.1910)

Dans Nr. 2 (1938)
Sten MELIN (b.1957)

Källarbacksvariationer (1993)
Sergej DMITRIEV (b.1964)

Intrada (1993)
Vikingen kommer (1998)
S Pat SIMMERUD (b.1963)

Soli (1997)
Jan W MORTHENSON (b.1940)

Hymn (1987)
Mats Larsson GOTHE (b.1965)

Gopak (1989)
Stockholm Saxophone Quartet with Eva Runefelt (recitation in Tre dikter) and Jens Maimkvist (baritone in Soli)
Recorded in Studios 2 and 3, Radiohuset, Stockholm 2002 (except The Stan Melin, recorded in Studio 2 in 1997)
Functions as hybrid multichannel SACD


Phono Suecia continues to chart contemporary courses with aplomb and conviction. Not only that but they do so quickly – many of these works for the adventuresome Stockholm Saxophone Quartet were written in the last five or six years. A few do date from the late 1980s and one, from the senior composer here, Erland von Koch, dates from 1938 and his studies in Germany. So welcome to the Quartet’s distinctive sound world and to the satellite of composers who have written for it or have been inspired by it or for whom it has proved a committed medium.

The range of sonorities, colours and rhythms here is outstanding. Not all the works last long enough to develop but then many are, as the disc’s title proclaims, in the Encore category and make for concise, thoughtful, often whimsical listening. The blend of saxophones obviously contributes much as does the fearless gusto of the performers. Nelson’s Full Throttle is Nymanesque whilst Feiler’s Ki (he was born in Israel) explores some Rabbinic chanting over deftly coloured and conjured organ sonorities. The saxophone quartet medium can encourage a catholicity of sonorities – try Bohlin, whose sometimes abrasive and guttural squawks are ear-cleansing in the extreme. Karin Rehnqvist conjures some fascinating textures in the chorale-like Rädda mig ur dyn. The most "old fashioned" is the Ingvar Karkoff, a full, rich arrangement of a Greek folk-tune and that element of the folk strain runs throughout the disc with Jeverud for example utilising a Balkan tune for his very jazz-orientated Piece in Colours of Autumn, complete with some raucous "solos." The recitation of Eva Runefelt’s poems in Förare’s Three Poems is very much in the background and adds another "voice" to the ensemble, one that explores the sparse reserve of the poems.

There are plenty of rhythmic diversions here – from the tango of Mellnäs and von Koch’s (originally for violin and piano) fun-packed Dance through Melin’s brief but incident rich Variations. Simmerud’s Soli, for speaker and quartet, put me in mind of Eight Songs for a Mad King with its interior monologues and sense of unsettling apartness. But as often as not the group mines a rich chorale strain evident in a number of these works, well exemplified by Morthenson’s Hymn – beautifully harmonised.

There’s plenty of variety here – pugnacious, hymnal, jazz-inflected, morose. The playing is superlative (and the recording is top notch) and whilst not everything will compel nothing outstays its welcome.

Jonathan Woolf


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