hr-Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) in concert: the German Premiere of Fazıl Say’s Preludes for saxophone quartet, string orchestra and percussion. Fazıl Say: piano, Peter Oundjian: conductor. Guest musicians: Raschèr Saxophone Quartet. Streamed live on April 28, 2017 by the hr-Sinfonieorchester channel.
- Fazıl Say – Preludes for saxophone quartet, string orchestra and percussion (with Raschèr Saxophone Quartet)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467
- Antonín Dvořák – Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70, B. 141
Say – Preludes for saxophone quartet, string orchestra and percussion
Turkish pianist and composer Fazıl Say’s Preludes is in four sections, each inspired by a literary classic: Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha”, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “White Nights”, Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and Albert Camus’ “The Outsider”. The composer borrows motifs from these complex emotional worlds and portrays them in the music: Oriental soundscapes – such as the middle-eastern dance rhythms in “The Outsider”, first appearing in the percussion and then adopted by the saxophone quartet – give the piece an exotic flavor.
All my compositions, as indeed my life does, take place between Eastern and Western musical lineages. Turkish music has a stronger rhythmical character, German music has a great history. Both cultures interact with each other. Fazıl Say
Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467
Mozart completed his Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467 on 9 March 1785, when he was 29 years old, four weeks after the completion of the previous D minor concerto, K. 466.
The concerto has three movements:
- Allegro maestoso; in common time. The tempo marking is in Mozart’s catalog of his own works, but not in the autograph manuscript.
- Andante in F major. In both the autograph score and in his personal catalog, Mozart notated the meter as alla breve.
- Allegro vivace assai.
The opening movement begins quietly with a march figure, but quickly moves to a more lyrical melody interspersed with a fanfare in the winds. The music grows abruptly in volume, with the violins taking up the principal melody over the march theme, which is now played by the brass. This uplifting theme transitions to a brief, quieter interlude distinguished by a sighing motif in the brass. The march returns, eventually transitioning to the entrance of the soloist. The soloist plays a brief Eingang (a type of abbreviated cadenza) before resolving to a trill on the dominant G while the strings play the march in C major. The piano then introduces new material in C major and begins transitioning to the dominant key of G major. Immediately after an orchestral cadence finally announces the arrival of the dominant, the music abruptly shifts to G minor in a passage that is reminiscent of the main theme of the Symphony No. 40 in that key. A series of rising and falling chromatic scales then transition the music to the true second theme of the piece, an ebullient G major theme, which can also be heard in Mozart’s Third Horn Concerto. The usual development and recapitulation follow. There is a cadenza at the end of the movement, although Mozart’s original has been lost.
The famous Andante, in the subdominant key of F major, is in three parts. The opening section is for orchestra only and features muted strings. The first violins play with a dreamlike melody over an accompaniment consisting of second violins and violas playing repeated-note triplets and the cellos and bass playing pizzicato arpeggios. All of the main melodic material of the movement is contained in this orchestral introduction, in either F major or F minor. The second section introduces the solo piano and starts off in F major. It is not a literal repeat, though, as after the first few phrases, new material is interjected which ventures off into different keys. When familiar material returns, the music is now in the dominant keys of C minor and C major. Then it modulates to G minor, then B-flat major, then F minor, which transitions to the third section of the movement. The third section begins with the dreamlike melody again, but this time in the relative key of F major’s parallel key, A-flat major. Over the course of this final section, the music makes its way back to the tonic keys of F minor and then F major and a short coda concludes the movement.
The final rondo movement begins with the full orchestra espousing a joyous “jumping” theme. After a short cadenza, the piano joins in and further elaborates. A “call and response” style is apparent, with the piano and ensemble exchanging parts fluidly. The soloist gets scale and arpeggio figurations that enhance the themes, as well as a short cadenza that leads right back to the main theme. The main theme appears one final time, leading to an upward rush of scales that ends on a triumphant note.
Dvořák – Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70
The work was completed on 17 March 1885 and first performed on 22 April 1885 at St James’s Hall in London. It was originally published as Symphony No. 2.
The work is scored for an orchestra of 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo in the 3rd movement), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in A and B♭), 2 bassoons, 4 horns (in D and F), 2 trumpets (in C, D, and F), 3 trombones, timpani and strings. There are four movements:
- Allegro maestoso
- Poco adagio in F major
- Scherzo: Vivace – Poco meno mosso
- Finale: Allegro
Raschèr Saxophone Quartet
The Raschèr Saxophone Quartet is a professional ensemble of four saxophonists which performs classical and modern music. Like most saxophone quartets, the RSQ features one player on each of the four most common sizes of saxophone: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.
The quartet was founded in the United States in 1969 by prominent classical saxophonist Sigurd Raschèr and his daughter, Carina (Karin). Some years later the quartet relocated to Germany and has been based there ever since.
Since its formation, the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet has appeared regularly at the major concert halls in Europe, Asia and the U.S.: Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center New York, Kennedy Center Washington D.C., Opera Bastille Paris, Royal Festival Hall London, Philharmonie Cologne, Finlandia Hall Helsinki, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Schauspielhaus Berlin, Musikverein Vienna, Tonhalle Zürich, Parco della Musica Rome, Dewan Filharmonik Petronas Kuala Lumpur, National Concert Hall Taipei, etc. The Vienna “Zeitung” hailed the quartet as the “Uncrowned Kings of the Saxophone” and a critic from “Die Welt” claimed, “If there were an Olympic discipline for virtuoso wind playing, the Raschèr Quartet would definitely receive a gold medal.”
The ensemble carries on a tradition established in the 1930’s by the pioneer of the classical saxophone and founding member of the quartet Sigurd Raschèr, who animated many composers to write music especially for him. In a similar fashion, the quartet has inspired over 350 composers to dedicate music to them, including, Aho, Berio, Bergman, Bialas, Dean, Denhoff, Donatoni, Firsowa, Franke, Glass, Gubaidulina, Halffter, Kagel, Kaipainen, Kancheli, Keuris, de Raaff, Maros, Moe, Nilsson, Nordgren, Nørgard, Rosenblum, Raskatov, Sandström, Stucky, Terzakis, Tüür, Wuorinen, Xenakis, and Chen Yi. All of these composers have shared an enthusiasm for the four musicians’ unique homogeneous tone quality, virtuosity and dynamic interpretation of new and old music. Regarding their interpretation of Bach, the well-known German musicologist Ulrich Dibelius wrote, “When the Raschèr Quartet plays Bach, the music takes on a seraphic aura—as if the organ and the string quartet had come together.”
Numerous composers have been fascinated with the combination of the Raschèrs and orchestra, which has resulted in more than 40 new works for that combination as well as invitations from many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Gewandhaus Leipzig, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic, American Composer’s Orchestra, Saint Cecilia National Academy Orchestra Rome, Gulbenkian Orchestra Lisbon, Malaysian National Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Pilharmonique Strasbourg, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Residentie Orchestra of the Hague, Berlin Sinfonie Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonisches Orchester Kiel, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Camerata Bern, Vienna Symphony, BBC London Symphony, SWR Baden-Baden, MDR Orchestra Leipzig, Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Stuttgart, Radio-Sinfonie Orchestra Cologne, I Fiamminghi and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle.
In addition to the Raschèr Quartet’s numerous solo recitals and collaborations with the world’s leading orchestras, the Quartet has performed with many various instrumental and vocal combinations, including Christain Lindberg, The Kroumata Percussion Ensemble, The London Voices, The West German Radio Choir, The Rias Chamber Choir, The Finnish Radio Choir, The Belgian Radio Choir, The Icelandic National Cathedral Choir, and the Netherlands Chamber Choir. Numerous composers such as Luciano Berio, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Bernd Franke, Stefan Thomas, Giya Kancheli, Maricio Kagel and Sofia Gubaibulina have been inspired to contribute works for the Raschèrs in these combinations. The Raschèr Quartet is a musical democracy. Therefore, in contrast to many other chamber ensembles, the quartet has no leader.