The Xenakis and Norgard are quite entertaining
Christopher Culver | 01/16/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"On this BIS disc, the Rascher Saxophone Quartet perform 20th century pieces by five European composers. I got this disc while exploring the output of Norgard and Xenakis, so I'll limit my review to their works here. However, fans of Hindemith might find this disc especially interesting because it features his Konzertstuck for two saxophonists that was written for Rascher Sr.
Per Norgard's "Roads to Ixtlan" (1992) consists of three slow movements that, however differently they each begin, slowly gravitate towards the same melodic shape. I don't want to spoil how it works, but longtime Norgard fans will have a lot of fun discovering how he manages the same ending in each of the three movements. This might not be a major work, but it's nonetheless a finely crafted one.
Iannis Xenakis' "Xas" (1987) features right off the sort of writing that you'd expect from the composer's late period: music consisting of modal chords moving in a fairly glacial fashion. However, Xenakis' love for the primal in music means that for a few brief moments the music opens up into a real feeling of swing, though Xenakis ironically wanted to avoid references to jazz. Again, this is not a major work by this composer, but I enjoy it more than I do a lot of late Xenakis."