Notes and Editorial Reviews
The title of alto saxophonist/composer Roger Hanschel’s Niederschlagsmengen, for saxophone and string quartet, roughly translates into English as “Rainfall” or “Amounts of Precipitation”. Either way, the work’s seven extended movements add up to 66 minutes’ worth of engaging, stylistically eclectic music.
The opening section, Regeneration & Blend, features sequences of churning arpeggiated chords and healthy stretches of varied string backdrops for Hanschel’s inventive improvising. Fundamental Vibration Of The Inner Nowhere sounds like it could be the title of the latest Terry Riley piece, and indeed, its slow moving chords and intriguing use of harmonics often evoke the latter composer’s works written for the Kronos
Quartet. After a slow, lyrical beginning, Was Weite Herzen Füllt breaks out into an exuberant Balkan-influenced dance. Change Follows Vision features freeflowing saxophone lines against mostly soft, accordion-like string textures.
Hanschel’s experience in Indian classical music reveals itself throughout Söhne’s fast and exhilarating asymmetrical rhythmic patterns, while Konstanten’s sparse quasi-minimalist opening measures gradually turn Beethovenian and beyond, with the saxophone and strings achieving an intense and assiduous timbral blend. The relatively short concluding movement, Slow Pulsation, features a fairly steady string accompaniment supporting beautiful, long-limbed saxophone lines that sometimes remind me of Jan Garbarek’s early work on the ECM label. Hanschel is his own best interpreter, judging from his commanding technique, his colorful, flexible sound, and his willingness to blend into the ensemble when appropriate.
Given the Auryn Quartet’s extensive discography devoted to the central standard repertoire, it might seem unusual to find them playing music that blurs boundaries between contemporary classical, jazz, world music, and a smidgen of pop. Yet they clearly relish “playing against type”, so to speak, and turn in immaculate, fluent, and committed performances. I have no doubt that the Hanschel/Auryn collaboration was mutually rewarding. Save for slight congestion in louder passages, the engineering is up to Tacet’s usual high standards.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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