DEDICATION features music composed in celebration of the PRISM Quartet’s 20th anniversary by a slew of today’s top composers with a
knack for the sax. PRISM has expanded the world of the sax quartet through their commissions and performances since 1984. Their dedication has paid off with this virtuosic showcase of instrumental acrobatics.
PRISM musicians have wielded their instruments in a variety of styles and contexts, and they’ve done it with a gleeful disregard for the various “-isms” of the day. The saxophone is a versatile family of instruments, capable of great subtlety and emotion, but also perfectly good at producing a wailing wall of noise. And while PRISM has done yeoman work in reminding people that old Adolphe Sax intended his inventions to be classical instruments first, the quartet also has the good taste and the tasty chops needed to reflect the sax’s great tradition in jazz and popular music.
This collection brings together almost two-dozen works written or arranged to mark PRISM’s anniversary, back in 2004. The composers come from near (Philly-based Matthew Levy, founding member of PRISM) and far (Donnacha Dennehy, a central figure on the Irish new music scene). They range from some of our most highly visible, award-winning figures (William Bolcom, Chen Yi, Jennifer Higdon, Libby Larsen) to emerging voices (Roshanne Etezady and Dennis DeSantis were both beginning their careers in 2004). And of course, there are friends of the ensemble like sax player Greg Osby, who adds his alto to the mix, and one-time PRISM member Tim Ries, who left the quartet some years ago to go on tour with a rock band. (Only time will tell if that band, apparently called “The Rolling Stones,” will have the staying power of the PRISM Quartet.)
From the frantic, florid playing required by Gregory Wanamaker’s “speed metal organum blues” to the melancholy of Renée Favand-See’s
“isolation,” this set of birthday dedications offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of one of the essential contemporary music groups of our