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Mysterious Morning / Habanera Saxophone Quartet


Release Date: 07/20/2004 
Label:  Alpha Productions   Catalog #: 10   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  György LigetiFuminori TanadaFranco DonatoniIannis Xenakis,   ... 
Performer:  Christian WirthSylvain MalézieuxGilles TressosFabrizio Mancuso,   ... 
Conductor:  Michel MoragučsFuminori TanadaLaszlo HadadyGuillaume Bourgogne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Habanera Saxophone Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews





This is a very satisfying release. The foremost reason is the quality of the Habanera Quartet. The members exhibit not only facility with the most difficult technical passages and a variety of styles, but their range of dynamics and colors is broad and always under strict control. If the music ever becomes harsh (as in the Xenakis), it is for an aesthetic reason, not through the fault of the instrumentation or ensemble-playing.


The other reason is the program, which hits a series of high points in the (non-American) saxophone quartet repertoire. I feel that in the 20th century we?ve seen three new acoustic chamber ensembles emerge Read more as staples of the repertoire: percussion ensemble, ?Pierrot-plus? sextet, and saxophone quartet. The latter has a similar continuity and abstraction of sonority associated with string quartet, but a fullness and richness of sound that comes from the brass and woodwinds. The Ligeti, which opens the program, is a case in point. It is a 1997 arrangement of the composer?s 1953 Bagatelles for wind quintet by Guillaume Bourgogne (with the composer?s blessing), and despite the loss of one instrument, one never feels anything is lost from the original. The quartet renders Ligeti?s wit and fantasy with devastating accuracy. Rasch (1990), by Franco Donatoni (1927?2000), is a concise essay in small fragments that coalesce into larger textures: a delicate jigsaw puzzle that assembles itself in real-time. His Rasch II of 1995, for quartet, two percussion, and piano, however, is far less satisfying. At twice the length of its predecessor, it begins to sound like note-spinning that simply covers a given duration, a testimony to compositional fluency but not much more (this composer, quite renowned in his lifetime, already seems to be fading in collective memory in relation to his peers; I wouldn?t be surprised if he is one of those for whom history may have an ultimately dismissive judgement).


Iannis Xenakis?s Xas (1987) is both ?sax? in retrograde and a reduction of the composer?s name. It is genuinely abrasive, though at times?almost like a momentary calm in the middle of chaos?relatively lush harmonic moments emerge. It?s wonderful for being unlike almost anything else in the saxophone quartet repertoire. Sofia Gubaidulina?s In Erwartung (?In Anticipation?) from 1994 is scored for quartet and six percussion. Based on the ever-so-familiar motive from the Dies Irae, it is an alternation between stillness and violent gestures, full of gnomic moments, exotic sounds (slide whistles and saxophones, for example), and unsettling silences. Finally, Mysterious Morning II (1996), by Fuminori Tanada (b. 1961), is a two-movement etude based on fluttering, descending chromatic lines. It could be too reductive and schematic, except that the composer carefully controls microtonal inflections and timbral shadings, which gives the internal structure of the gestures more interest.


The Tanada and later Donatoni are recorded premieres, though I have to say that they are the least interesting works for me on the program. But the Ligeti transcription is also a premiere, which is an important event. The remaining works are all significant and enduring works within this still-young repertoire. As said before, the performances are outstanding, and the recording simply gorgeous. On this cycle, I?ve encountered a few releases on Alpha, a new?at least to me?and (apparently) French label. They seem consistently engaging in terms of repertoire, quality of performance, and production values.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1.
Bagatelles (6) for Wind Quintet by György Ligeti
Performer:  Christian Wirth (Soprano Saxophone), Sylvain Malézieux (Alto Saxophone), Gilles Tressos (Baritone Saxophone),
Fabrizio Mancuso (Tenor Saxophone)
Conductor:  Michel Moragučs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Habanera Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 03/01/2000 
Venue:  Live  Paris, France 
Notes: Version: 1997 
2.
Mysterious Morning II by Fuminori Tanada
Performer:  Gilles Tressos (Baritone Saxophone), Fabrizio Mancuso (Tenor Saxophone), Sylvain Malézieux (Alto Saxophone),
Christian Wirth (Soprano Saxophone)
Conductor:  Fuminori Tanada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Habanera Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Japan 
Date of Recording: 03/01/2000 
Venue:  Live  Paris, France 
3.
Rasch by Franco Donatoni
Performer:  Gilles Tressos (Baritone Saxophone), Sylvain Malézieux (Alto Saxophone), Christian Wirth (Soprano Saxophone),
Fabrizio Mancuso (Tenor Saxophone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Habanera Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 03/01/2000 
Venue:  Live  Paris, France 
4.
Xas by Iannis Xenakis
Performer:  Gilles Tressos (Baritone Saxophone), Sylvain Malézieux (Alto Saxophone), Christian Wirth (Soprano Saxophone),
Fabrizio Mancuso (Tenor Saxophone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Habanera Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; France 
Date of Recording: 03/01/2000 
Venue:  Live  Paris, France 
5.
Rasch II by Franco Donatoni
Performer:  Fuminori Tanada (Piano), Abel Billard (Percussion), Patrice Gauchon (Percussion),
Gilles Tressos (Baritone Saxophone), Sylvain Malézieux (Alto Saxophone), Christian Wirth (Soprano Saxophone),
Fabrizio Mancuso (Tenor Saxophone)
Conductor:  Laszlo Hadady
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Habanera Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; Italy 
Date of Recording: 03/01/2000 
Venue:  Live  Paris, France 
6.
In Erwartung by Sofia Gubaidulina
Performer:  Gianni Pizzolato (Percussion), Hervé Trovel (Percussion), Patrice Gauchon (Percussion),
Laurent Fraiche (Percussion), Fabrizio Mancuso (Tenor Saxophone), Gilles Tressos (Baritone Saxophone),
Sylvain Malézieux (Alto Saxophone), Christian Wirth (Soprano Saxophone), Abel Billard (Percussion),
Thierry Briard (Percussion)
Conductor:  Guillaume Bourgogne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Habanera Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
Date of Recording: 03/01/2000 
Venue:  Live  Paris, France 

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