Thursday 4 May 2017, 7.30pm
An evening of music from Canada and Switzerland in three sets, for saxophone quartet, for solo piano, and finally for saxophone quartet + sinewaves.
Set one: Jürg Frey: Memoire, Horizon (Konus saxophone quartet)
Set two: Philip Thomas, solo piano
Jürg Frey: Miniature in Five Parts
Jürg Frey: Zwei allerletzte Sachelchen
Linda Catlin Smith: Poire
Linda Catlin Smith: Music for John Cage
Marc Sabat: Ich Fahre Nach Köln
Marc Sabat: Nocturne
Cassandra Miller: Philip the Wanderer
Set three: Chiyoko Szlavnics: During a Lifetime (Konus saxophone quartet + sinewaves)
The concert is presented with financial support from the City and Canton of Bern, Switzerland, with many thanks.
The Konus Quartet from Bern in Switzerland are extraordinary instrumentalists, whose controlled sound is quite unlike that of any other saxophone quartet. Tonight they present major works by Wandelweiser composer Jürg Frey and Berlin-based Chiyoko Szlavnics, whose beautiful music of sustained tones and glissandi rarely gets performed in the UK. In between those pieces pianist Philip Thomas plays a series of short works by Frey, Linda Catlin Smith, Marc Sabat as well as Cassandra Miller’s stunning ‘Philip the Wanderer’.
Toronto-born Chiyoko Szlavnics composed ‘During a Lifetime’ for the Konus Quartet, who gave its UK premiere at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2015. The piece combines saxophone multiphonics and sustained sinewaves in a thrilling, shifting soundscape. Reviewing the Huddersfield performance Simon Cummings wrote: “Simultaneously static yet constantly moving, tones shimmering and juddering against each other, it created music of such ravishing beauty that it felt almost impossible to breathe.” ‘During a Lifetime’ was released on CD in February 2017 as part of the Canadian Composers series on Another Timbre.
Chiyoko Szlavnics will be present at the performance.
Swiss born Jürg Frey’s music is characterised by a gentle but unorthodox harmonic beauty, and has been widely celebrated in recent years at numerous festivals and performances. His saxophone quartet ‘Mémoire, Horizon’ was composed for the Konus Quartet, and released on CD to great acclaim on the Musiques Suisses label. It was described by Brian Olewnick as “a wonderful, absorbing and thought-provoking work, possibly my favourite saxophone quartet ever….so, so great.”
Frey’s delicate piano music has also been highly praised. Reviewing ‘Circles and Landscapes’, Philip Thomas’s CD of his solo piano works, Michael Rosenstein wrote: “Thomas places each phrase and chord-set evenly across the duration of each piece and the music advances with an unwavering beauty bereft of any standard notion of melody or harmonic progression.”
And John Eyles commented: “Thomas delivers a flawless performance, leaving the listener to savour the spare beauty of the composition…Frey’s loving care and attention to detail shine through in his work. Simply exquisite.”
Philip Thomas will also play short piano pieces by Linda Catlin Smith and Marc Sabat, and a longer piece written for him by Cassandra Miller, who is one of the most exciting young composers of today. Her dense but lyrical work has recently been featured at the Tectonics Festival in Glasgow, the Angelica Festival in Bologna, as well as at recent Kammer Klang concerts here at Cafe Oto.