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Donald Sinta Quartet | Collider

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Classical: New Music Ensemble Classical: Contemporary Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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by Donald Sinta Quartet

CAG Records announces its latest album, Collider, by the Donald Sinta Quartet. The album features the works of György Ligeti and Thierry Escaich, as well as original pieces by several young composers written especially for the saxophone quartet.
Genre: Classical: New Music Ensemble
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Rush
5:08 $0.99
2. Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet: I. Allegro Con Spirito (Transcr. for Saxophone Quartet)
1:13 $0.99
3. Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet: II. Rubato. Lamentoso (Transcr. for Saxophone Quartet)
3:26 $0.99
4. Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet: III. Cantabile, Molto Legato (Transcr. for Saxophone Quartet)
2:38 $0.99
5. Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet: IV. Vivace. Energico (Transcr. for Saxophone Quartet)
0:56 $0.99
6. Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet: V. Adagio. Mesto - Béla Bartók in Memoriam (Transcr. for Saxophone Quartet)
2:20 $0.99
7. Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet: VI. Vivace. Capriccioso (Transcr. for Saxophone Quartet)
1:22 $0.99
8. Bulgarity
3:11 $0.99
9. Tango Virtuoso
4:54 $0.99
10. Red Pine
8:39 $0.99
11. Babel
6:56 $0.99
12. Phantoms
7:00 $0.99
13. Elegy
3:38 $0.99
14. Amalgamation
7:41 $0.99
15. LHC: I. Continuum
5:18 $0.99
16. LHC: II. Quarks
3:14 $0.99
17. LHC: III. 4 Tev
2:20 $0.99
18. LHC: IV. Higgs Boson
3:46 $0.99
19. Z(4430)
1:18 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The title of this album, Collider, is drawn from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), currently in use by the Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. The largest particle collider in the world, the LHC was built to explore the origins of the early cosmos and enhance our understanding of the subatomic world. One of the pieces on this recording is written in tribute to this marvelous facility and the work it is currently undertaking. It probably seems counterintuitive for a recording of chamber music to be called Collider, as this is a genre of music traditionally centered on the idea of homogeneity and dialogue, not explosive collision. However, the collisions this incredible machine produces are the results of years of study, grueling hard work, and a huge array of international contributions, all of which require incredible precision. These are all attributes that we feel this music and our group embody and it is with that inspiration that we name our debut recording Collider.

David Kechley’s Rush was written during the course of a month in 2002 for the West Point Saxophone Quartet. Highlighting ensemble virtuosity, the piece showcases the unique dexterity possible in a saxophone quartet, an ensemble in which every instrument, no matter the size, is played exactly the same. This technical tour-de-force demands that all members of the quartet, from soprano to baritone, be able to perform endless chromatic lines traversing the entire range of the instrument. Briefly interrupted with a middle chorale section in which both the soprano and baritone play the role of “protesting soloist,” the work ends with the same 700 notes with which it began in true virtuosic fashion.

One of the most iconic pieces in the wind quintet literature, György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet originated as six movements of his 11-movement solo piano work, Musica ricercata. The unique structure of this earlier piano work centers on the addition, in each movement, of one more musical pitch. Thus, beginning with two pitches in the first movement, the 11th movement ends with all 12 pitches being presented. Following a request from the Jeney Quintet, he arranged six of these movements for wind quintet, specifically movements 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10. The version for saxophone quartet here features the excitement and brashness of the wind quintet version, while also hearkening back to some of the homogeneity found in the solo piano work. Where in the highly diverse wind quintet there are several different instrumental colors spanning the range from French horn to flute, the saxophone quartet is essentially four different lengths of the same instrument. This feature of the saxophone quartet allows for a wide array of both highly discrepant and totally homogeneous colors, while staying true to the required ranges of the wind quintet version. The first movement features constant alternations between major and minor triads with a brash and jocular character, ending humorously in the baritone saxophone with the “tonic” note. The second movement centers on the interval of the tritone and contrasts the opening movement’s boldness with a meditative intensity. Movement three contrasts a rapidly articulated seven-note ostinato throughout the ensemble with a folk-style melody heard predominantly in the upper two voices. The seven-note ostinato is enlarged to a vigorous dance in 7/8 for the fourth movement. Contrasted sharply with this brief and intensely accented music, the fifth movement, dedicated to composer Béla Bartók, brings back the meditative quality heard in the second movement. The final sixth movement is the most virtuosic and intensely dissonant of them all; however, Ligeti yet again tempers this virtuosity with a humorous finish in the baritone voice.

Annika Socolofsky’s Bulgarity was a First Prize-winning composition in the Donald Sinta Quartet’s 2013 National Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition. Written while Socolofsky was a graduate student at the University of Michigan, the work is a vigorous fusion of Bulgarian dance music, Bulgarian saxophone playing, and vulgarity! Though the style of ornaments, meter-changes, and use of modes bears a strong resemblance to folk music from the Balkans, all of the material heard in the work is original. This vigorous fusion of folk music idioms and dance with contemporary saxophone writing ends with a rhythmic unison display showing the full range of the ensemble.

Written in 1991 and dedicated to French saxophonist Jean-Pierre Baraglioli, Paris Conservatory composer and organist Thierry Escaich’s Tango Virtuoso delivers in quick and humorous fashion on its title’s implications. While maintaining the sincerity of a true tango, the work allows for some light-hearted interjections of great virtuosity that frequently borrow from non-classical musical genres. The main melody is heard in numerous forms and perhaps most dramatically in the alto, with virtuosic flourishes surrounding it in the soprano saxophone. The work ends as a great tango should, with dramatic gestures and bravura!

Composer Kristin Kuster has been a great advocate for the saxophone and has several very challenging works in her catalog for the instrument. For her latest saxophone work, Red Pine, she has taken inspiration from camping in pine forests in Ontario, Canada. The work evokes a gentle walk through gorgeous natural scenery with simple and stirring beauty. Technically speaking, the work also displays what is commonly called “the virtuosity of restraint.” That is, long and low sustains at very soft dynamic levels, which though technically difficult on the saxophone, create otherworldly resonances and interesting blends of timbre across the ensemble. Beginning with the primary motive of the piece—a soft descending motive in the soprano and alto parts—the work trades a steady quarter-note pulse between the parts against soft and melodic sustains. All the while, the players are called upon to control and phrase several low and quiet pitches. The work concludes with such a note, a unison A, fading back into the silence from which it began.

Joseph Bozich’s Babel was the First Prize-winning composition from DSQ’s 2014 National Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition. Bozich, himself a saxophonist and conductor in addition to being a composer, displays his familiarity with the capabilities of the instrument throughout this demanding work. Of the piece’s inspiration, he writes:

“Though loosely inspired by the story of the Tower of Babel as told in the Bible, this composition does not aim to directly mimic any of the specific narrative aspects of the original tale. Instead, it deals with the more general features of the story—the introduction features the saxophone quartet playing almost as a single instrument, constantly bouncing off of each other or playing melodic fragments that together shape the majority of the piece. The latter portion of the work, however, focuses on the barriers placed between humankind in the story, and the barriers of language and ideology which are regularly faced each day around the world—the saxophones each break off into their own motives and rhythms, languages and ideas, which they must work through to remain together and complete the composition. It ends as both a meditation on the individual and the whole, as each member of the quartet plays their own isolated fragment that together form the head motive of the work, before receding into silence, knowing that such problems of communication are not fully resolved.”

Also a First Prize-winning composition in the 2013 DSQ National Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition, Natalie Moller’s Phantoms is a highly programmatic work that ranges from the most internally meditative colors to the most ferociously dark material. Though not specifically programmatic, the quartet’s title gives you a very good indication of the sort of imagery most closely associated with its content. The hushed and reverent opening crescendos violently into a virtuosic tenor saxophone solo, which is then joined by all four voices in counterpoint. A middle chorale-like section features a high melody in the soprano saxophone, which is then passed to the other members of the group. This music provides a brief respite before the stormy and dramatic finale.

Another great advocate for the saxophone and saxophone quartet, composer Gregory Wanamaker’s achingly poignant Elegy is a 2009 arrangement. This work had its genesis as the second movement of his hugely popular and widely-performed Duo Sonata for alto saxophone and clarinet, a work from 2002. Following numerous requests for alternate versions of this gorgeous movement, Wanamaker has crafted arrangements for string orchestra, string quartet, saxophone quartet, reed quintet, and wind ensemble. Originally written as a reaction to the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, Wanamaker has since indicated that the current versions of the work can be used as a remembrance for loved ones lost for any reason. Written entirely in the Aeolian mode and bearing many resemblances to an early motet, Wanamaker’s use of the ranges of the four saxophones here to create moments of organ-like richness and gentle reflection displays his unique familiarity with the saxophone, in addition to his deep understanding of Medieval and Renaissance choral writing.

Written in 2009 for the Red Line Saxophone Quartet, Andy Akiho’s Amalgamation stays true to its title’s promise, but in a very unconventional yet compelling way. Throughout the piece, the composer’s own virtuosity as a percussionist is on display through the use of complex rhythmic interlocking. Many of the work’s incredible effects are achieved through precise rhythmic cohesion between the live saxophone quartet and digital track. Having sampled numerous saxophone sounds and techniques, he then places the demand on the saxophone quartet to perform several of these effects and gestures live in rapid alternation and unison. The result is an intricately mechanical work that uses the saxophone not only as a wind instrument, but also a percussion instrument and wind-machine, with pinpoint musical precision.

Combining a large palette of instrumental colors with a programmatic drive taken from the world of physics, Roger Zare’s LHC (2012) is a monumental contribution to the contemporary saxophone quartet literature. Centering on the work of the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, this music uses various concepts from particle physics to explore numerous timbral effects on saxophone. Of the piece, Zare writes:

“The first movement, Continuum, envisions the ether of time-space, a vast expanse with harmonies fading into and out of focus. A melodic line is passed around the ensemble and the movement ends, fading into a single held note, which proceeds into the second movement without pause.

“Quarks, the title of the second movement, refers to the smallest building blocks of all matter. There are six different flavors of quarks, organized into three pairs. This symmetry is reflected in the music as pairs of saxophones poke in and out of the fabric, always in contrary motion.

“The third movement, 4 TeV (tera electron volts), represents the power of each beam of the LHC during 2012, when this work was written. Key clicks, passed around the ensemble, represent the massive machine revving up its energy. Another idea, stated in imitation, leads to an acceleration into the fourth movement.

“The final movement is named after the Higgs Boson, otherwise known as the "God particle." The LHC was built in order to confirm or disprove the existence of this particle that gives all other particles mass. On July 4, 2012, in the middle of my work on this piece, CERN announced that they had found the Higgs Boson after years of accumulating data. The music consists of repeated triumphant chords, morphing from one to another, celebrating this momentous discovery. All three previous movements are referenced, and the work ends with a reprise of the ethereal opening movement, this time fading away into silence.

“There are two versions of LHC, one for saxophone quartet (SATB) and one for clarinet quartet (3 B-flat clarinets and bass clarinet). The saxophone version was commissioned by the MMTA Commissioned Composer program and premiered in Ann Arbor, Michigan by the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet. The clarinet version was commissioned and premiered by the 10th and Broadway Clarinet Quartet.”

Written as an encore piece for a performance by the Donald Sinta Quartet of LHC in Switzerland, Z(4430) again displays composer Roger Zare’s unique ability to translate highly scientific ideas into engagingly programmatic music, in this case all within the span of one minute! Zare explains:

“Z(4430) is a discovery made by the LHCb experiment at CERN, the first confirmed exotic hadron that combines four quarks. This minute-long encore piece was written for CERN's Physics of Music and Music of Physics workshop at the Montreux Jazz Festival. I convert the number 4430 into musical notes as the basis of this work, and I keep the rhythms constantly shifting as the saxophones collide. Z(4430) was written for the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet and premiered at the Montreux International Jazz Festival on July 12, 2014 for CERN's Physics of Music and Music of Physics program.”

– Dan Graser



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