SALLY BEAMISH (b.1956): Chamber Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Strings, STEVEN STUCKY (b.1949): Music for Saxophones and Strings, CHEN YI (b.1953): Ba Yin (The Eight Sounds) for Saxophone Quartet and String Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01N079
Description: Beamish's work is somewhat modelled on Bach's Brandenburg Concerti, and has a delightfully elegant, bouncy neo-Baroque feel in the outer movements. Baroque forms rub shoulders with the melodic structures and ornamentation of traditional Scottish music, a frequent characteristic of the composer's music, in an idiom that is, as usual, very tonal. Stucky treats the saxophone ensemble as a virtuosic entity, almost a composite, polyphonic instrument, to which he gives a wide range of material in every kind of articulation and dynamic, in a dense, chromatic idiom (including some quarter-tone material), which resolves into more tonal material as the second part progresses. The strings provide a sonorous backdrop, but this is clearly a showpiece for the soloists. The work has a dark-hued, nocturnal character, shadowy and elusive. Chen Yi's work evokes traditional Chinese music, ingeniously imitating the eight types of folk instruments - which mostly, unsurprisingly, have little in common with saxophones or a Western string ensemble - through extended techniques, percussive sounds and modal melodies with microtonal inflections and 'bent' tones. While obviously referencing Eastern music, the piece is far from unapproachable to Western ears. Raschèr Saxophone Quartet, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra; Robin Engelen.