Saxophone devotees are not short of stimulation
and challenge on disc. Here are some examples from four living
composers some of whom are members of the American Composers Alliance.
The only name I recognise is that of the late Lukas Foss
The exploration that is the four movement Saxophone Quartet accommodates
darting and grunting dynamism, steady-slow intimate textural shifts
and a flickering gradient ascending to a conning tower where glancing
blows track 360 degrees before a warm rapprochement with those
New Yorker Brooks
is a single movement
piece with something in common with that bass rich chattering
power heard in the Foss. Add to this an embrace with dreamy lyricism
which came less naturally in Foss’s quartet. Californian Gregory
contributes a four-segment Quartet. Bathed in soft light
this very extensive work declares a lavishly stocked imagination
which is even more grounded in melody. It also has sufficient
graininess to side-step blandness and to sustain the invention
over such a long span. The Mountain
movement has something
of the Copland outdoor air. The final Fugue
has a gawky
stagger as a prelude to Hall’s hard-wired leaning towards sophisticated
metropolitan melody draws him back into a rapturous meditation.
That pecking staccato ends the piece with a propulsion that references
’s Images in Blue
is a piece in continuous
bluesy kaleidoscopic motion, Its material blends Stravinskian
discords into the Jack Daniels bluesy sway. This Polish-born composer
numbers Gyorgy Ligeti and Mario Davidovsky among her teachers.
is the youngest of the five. His Parquet
was inspired by Samuel Beckett’s theatre-piece
in which four people walk through and around a square.
When you hear the music you can hear how this fits. The music
is touched with the minimalist brush. The ideas interlock and
shift. A touch of Nyman and Glass here. The recording has pile-driver
impact and plenty of textured presence. Good notes and healthy
design values on parade.