The Quirk quartet performed twice at the Saxophone Day, hosted by the University of Huddersfield and directed by Sarah Markham. The first concert was at 10:15 am in St. Paul's Hall, the second at 6:00 pm. In the later performance we were joined by Richard Ingham playing soprano saxophone, so in effect we became a quintet. We performed one of Richard's compositions; Pieces for five players.
I think it's pretty rare that the same quartet, plays the same composition, in the same performance space, exactly a year apart. The only difference being the guest saxophonists that joined the quartet.
This year; Richard Ingham, last year; Claude Delangle. From the quartet's point of view this was fascinating, Richard and Claude rehearsed and performed in completely different ways.
Claude took more of a solo role, taking time to experiment with the musical line and musical detail. In some ways Claude was working blind; there is little explanation as to the premise of the composition. Claude's interpretation was beautiful, French classical saxophone at its best. As expected, absolutely stunning.
We were surprised at how different Richard's interpretation was. Of course we should have expected it, he is the composer and 'inside' the music. He created the gestalt to be carried forward. His performance (apart from the cadenza solo passages) was less that of a soloist. His sound became part of the ensemble and revealed intricate textures and harmonic spacings, at times the Scottish influence came to the fore.
I recently read an interesting paper by Patricia Holmes discussing timbre as a conveyor of emotion. This year's performance seemed to resonate with that discussion. If you're interested here's the details of the article:
Holmes, P. A. (2012). An Exploration of Musical Communication Through Expressive Use of Timbre: The Performer's Perspective. Psychology of Music, 40(3), 301-323.
Sarah Markham is directing her fifth annual Saxophone Day at the University of Huddersfield on the 8th March. It's quite exciting, Richard Ingham (saxophone) and Pete Stollery (sound diffusion) will be performing Dialogue de l’Ombre Double by Boulez. There will be workshops and also a masterclass featuring University saxophonists. The Quirk saxophone quartet will make an appearance in the opening recital, which will also include Egyptian Wish, a trio for three soprano saxophones composed by Katy Abbott. This particular trio features a fair bit of synchronised glissandi....
The day starts at 10:00 am and finishes about 7:30 pm after the evening concert (6:00pm). There will be exhibitions by Yamaha, Vandoren, Selmer, D’Addario Woodwind, Yanagisawa and Windstruments; always good to try out the latest stuff.
Full details are on Sarah's website.
The Quirk saxophone quartet will be performing at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia's capital city. We're rehearsing the works in our programme, which include works byRichard Ingham and he's joining us to perform them. We're also performing two works written by members of the quartet; Smudge by Chris Jolly and I didn't get where I was today by myself. Chris's piece is vibrant, rhythmic and exciting. As a quartet we love it. My composition is at the sketching stage. We played through a few sections at our rehearsal on Friday.
Challenging. I blame the rain.
The structure of my quartet is based on rainfall, with the implicit rhythms and complexity. A Messiaen mode (no harmonic resolution), a ten note phrase structure and a layer of accents based on significant events in a rainfall transcription doesn't easily lend itself to 4/4. So a large part of my work is in 7/16. Quite a challenge, as each saxophone part enters at a different time, with differing accents. Those saxophonists in Sibelius seem unfazed by anything. Whereas I found it pretty tricky to play the alto part in my own composition!
It's not all about textures. I have in mind a lyrical melody to rise through and float above the rain, for our amazing soprano player. I realise how fortunate I am to have a professional saxophone quartet to try out my stuff, such lovely people, offering endless support.
Best comment after a few play throughs: "It sounds like Gotkovsky". If only...
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