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A Minimal Sax

95909 A MINIMAL SAX-Booklet-02_page-0001

A Minimal Sax is a journey through the analogies, differences, and evolution of languages of minimalist music, one of the most important artistic movements of the last century. This work shows all its shades, from the purism of New York Counterpoint by Steve Reich to the mood swings of the Saxophone Quartet by Philip Glass, from the melody entwined with rhythm of String Quartet n.2 by Michael Nyman to the rhythmic patterns echoing pop music found in July by Michael Torke. The tonal, rhythmic, and expressive possibilities of the saxophone quartet connect these related yet diverse compositions.


S. Reich - New York Counterpoint (1985)

vers. for saxophone quartet and tape

P. Glass - Saxophone Quartet (1995)

M. Nyman - String Quartet n.2 (1988-2008/2018)

arr. for saxophone quartet

M. Torke - July  (1995)

Musica senza tempo

Musica senza tempo is the new project by the Freem Saxophone Quartet, built on four works that reflect and pay homage to counterpoint, baroque, classical and folkloristic musical forms. Originally written for other ensembles by some of the most authoritative voices of recent decades - György Ligeti, Salvatore Sciarrino, Arvo Pärt and Elliott Carter - the compositions of Musica senza tempo are characterised by common elements. Although composed between 1939 and 1998, they are based on ancient musical forms rooted in the Western musical tradition, and share a direct and communicative nature that makes them particularly fluid to listen to. The project was conceived not only to emphasise the link between contemporary music and its historical roots, but also to highlight the versatility of the saxophone and its ability to interpret works that reflect musical forms and styles prior to 1846,

the year Adolphe Sax invented the instrument.

The Six Bagatelle by György Ligeti (1923-2006), written in 1953 for wind quintet, are influenced by the music of Bartók and Stravinsky and create a brilliant synergy between popular music from Eastern Europe and the neoclassical style of the early twentieth century.

Salvatore Sciarrino’s (1947) Canzoniere da Scarlatti is a collection of transcriptions - or “elaborazioni da concerto” - from harpsichord’s Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). This work, written in 1998, revisits the compositions of the Baroque composer, emphasising its pure and timeless characteristics.

Fratres is one of the most famous works of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (1935). Written in 1977 for three main voices but without a fixed instrumentation, it is a chameleonic work that can be adapted to multiple timbral variations. Its recursive shape recalls the minimalist style, without however renouncing to lyrical and suspended openings.

Canonic Suite by the American Elliott Carter (1908-2012) is the only piece in the project originally composed for saxophones. This composition was written in 1939, during Carter's study period with composer Nadia Boulanger. The piece is, in fact, an exercise in composition based on the canon technique but, despite the rigid formal structure, it presents a multitude of musical ideas

that makes it musically alive and brilliant.

Through these four works, the Freem Saxophone Quartet offers a dynamic and original program that investigates the relationship between past and present in the highest Western musical tradition of the twentieth century. Musica senza tempo is also a journey to discover the multitude of timbral, technical and expressive possibilities offered by a “young” instrument such as the saxophone

even in repertoires of historical periods prior to its creation.

This shows how the saxophone is, in all respects, a timeless instrument.




E. Carter - Canonic Suite

S.Sciarrino/D. Scarlatti - Canzoniere da Scarlatti

A. Part - Fratres

G. Ligeti - Sechs Bagatellen

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