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’.
Chiyoko Szlavnics was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and has lived in Berlin, Germany, since 1998.
She studied music at the University of Toronto, and privately with the composer James Tenney.
She composes for a wide variety of instruments and ensembles, often combining them with sinewaves. A central aspect of her work is the audible phenomenon called “beating”, which is highlighted through her particular use of extended sustains, glissandi, tuning systems, and her way of combining acoustic instruments with electronics.
Drawings became the starting point for her compositional process around the year 2003. But in 2009 & 2010, several drawings series suddenly emerged, which distinctly belonged to the field of visual art. Szlavnics now practices in both disciplines, and not only are her drawings heard in concert, but her music is sometimes also seen in exhibitions in Europe and North America.
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 (b.1972, North Devon) specialises in performing new and experimental music, including both notated and improvised music.
He is particularly drawn to the experimental music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, and composers who broadly work within a post-Cageian aesthetic. In recent years he has been particularly associated with the music of Christian Wolff, giving the world premiere of his Sailing By in 2014 and Small Preludes in 2009, the UK premiere of Long Piano (Peace March 11), having co-edited and contributed to the first major study of Wolff’s music, Changing the System: the Music of Christian Wolff, in 2010, and currently recording all of Wolff’s solo piano music for sub rosa. He is an experienced performer of John Cage’s music, having performed the Concert for piano and orchestra with both Apartment House and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as well as most of the solo piano and prepared piano music, including a unique 12-hour performance of Electronic Music for piano
He has commissioned new works from a number of British composers whose ideas, language and aesthetic have been informed in some ways by the aforementioned American composers, such as Stephen Chase, Laurence Crane, Richard Emsley, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, John Lely, Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, and James Saunders...[more]