Oasis Quartet

Oasis Quartet

Innova 744

 

1-6. String Quartet No. 3

Philip Glass (b. 1937)

 

                                              . 1957: Award Montage  (3:45)

                                              . November 25 Ichigaya  (1:18)

                                              . Grandmother and Kimitake  (2:40)

                                              . 1962: Body Building  (1:50)

                                              . Blood Oath  (2:53)

                                              . Mishima/Closing  (2:25)

 

 

7. Le Bal  (11:27)

Thierry Escaich (b. 1965)

 

8-12. Quatuor

Ida Gotkovsky (b. 1933)

 

                                                 .  Misterioso  (3:29)

                                                 .  Lent  (4:16)

                                                   .  Linéaire  (8:47)

                                                  .  CantilŹne  (5:48)

                                                   .  Final  (7:00)

 

The Oasis Quartet has emerged out of a shared goal of interpreting dynamic repertoire at the highest level. In the tradition of fine chamber ensembles, Oasis Quartet’s nuanced performances of wind and string arrangements are as fresh, authentic and arresting as their interpretations of original works for saxophone. Founded in 2006, the ensemble has received rave reviews of its live performances as well as for its innovative and creative clinic and concert programming.

 

The members of Oasis—Nathan Nabb, James Bunte, Dave Camwell, and James Romain—are each highly regarded concert artists in their own right, appearing regionally, nationally, and internationally as chamber musicians, clinicians, orchestral musicians, solo recitalists and adjudicators.  They can be heard on the Teal Creek, Centaur, Amp Recordings, and Mark Custom labels, and in performances with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as a number of regional orchestras.

 

Oasis Quartet is dedicated to the exploration, preparation and presentation of important contemporary works for saxophone quartet, while retaining a strong foundation in standard and transcribed repertoire.  The diverse and wide-ranging interests of its members—including jazz performance and history, contemporary techniques and notation, ethnomusicology, and regular contributions to scholarly and trade journals—contribute a broad array of influences that lend a unique depth and perspective to Oasis Quartet performances.

 

Oasis Quartet gives special thanks to our families, especially Melissa, Jillian, Betty, and Angela, who have provided support and encouragement throughout many hours of rehearsal, recording, and touring.

 

We would also like to thank Steve Capp and Chad Jacobsen for their expertise in the recording, mixing, and mastering of this CD.

 

Thanks to our label Innova, which is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation. Innova Director Philip Blackburn and Operations Manager Chris Campbell have been a true pleasure to work with throughout this entire process.

 

Further thanks go to Sara Sipes for her graphic design skills, Drake friends of music for their support, and to our friends and colleagues who have made this group such an exhilarating artistic experience.

 

Photo credits: Tom Rankin and Hilary Williams.

 

 

One of the most influential and prolific composers of the 20th century, Philip Glass (b. 1937) is an American cultural icon. Born in Baltimore, Glass gained early exposure to pop and contemporary classical music working in his father’s record store. He studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Chicago, though he also studied piano with Marcus Raskin, who encouraged him to continue his musical education at Juilliard. While a pupil of Nadia Boulanger (mentor to countless renowned and diverse composers, among them Aaron Copland, Astor Piazzolla, Quincy Jones and Ida Gotkovsky, whose Quatuor is also featured on this recording), Glass began working with Ravi Shankar and his associate Allah Rakha, a tabla player, while collaborating on a film soundtrack. It was the Indian philosophy and emphasis of rhythmic structure that altered Glass’ compositional direction. In 1965, while still in Paris, Glass began experimenting in the compositional style for which he is known today.

 

Upon return to the United States, Glass settled in New York, and along with other notable artists La Monte Young (the “father of Minimalism”), Steve Reich and Terry Riley, Glass continued composing what he chooses to call “music with repetitive structures.” Though each aforementioned composer applies his compositional philosophy through varying methods, this new genre, a strong reaction to the complex, avant-garde trends of the previous era, is now associated with the larger artistic movement known as Minimalism. Glass, undoubtedly the most commercially successful composer in this style – and indeed in most any style – has written numerous operas, symphonies, movie scores and pieces for various chamber ensemble settings, including his own Philip Glass Ensemble.

 

String Quartet No. 3 (Mishima) is derived from the score Glass composed for Paul Schrader’s 1985 art house biopic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, about the prolific Japanese author Yukio Mishima. Mishima (given name Kimitake Hiraoka) was a groundbreaking and influential author in Japan’s cultural environment during the post-World War II era. He wrote for traditional kabuki theatre, poetry, short stories and novels. Some of his major works dealt with latent homosexuality (in Confessions of a Mask, which many believe to be semi-autobiographical), religion (in Temple of the Golden Pavilion), and the modernization/weakening of Japan (in The Sea of Fertility). Mishima was a political radical who formed his own militant group, the Tatenokai. On November 25, 1970, he and his group stormed the military headquarters at Ichigaya, and attempted to inspire a coup d’etat. When this failed, he ended his life by performing ritual suicide, sepukku.

 

The title of each movement comes from the scene in which the music is found, with the exception of “November 25: Ichigaya,” which actually comes from the scene “1937: Saint Sebastien.” Nathan Nabb adapted this version of the quartet for saxophones in 2007.

 

A winner of eight first prizes from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, Thierry Escaich (b. 1965) is an internationally regarded composer, improviser, organist and pedagogue. Escaich has written numerous works for varying instruments and ensembles, though pieces for the organ as well as organ and trumpet duo are most prevalent in his compositional output. As a performer, Escaich is the organist in residence at Saint-Étienne-du-Mont – a position held by Maurice Duruflé from 1929 until his death in 1986 – and has performed in many of the artistic and cultural centers around the world. Other works for saxophone by Escaich include: Le Chant de TénŹbres, Lutte, Amelie’s Dream, Valse-Pavane, Marche-Romance, Choral (en trio)-Antienne, Air de Coeur and Sax Trip.  Escaich is professor of composition and improvisation at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris.

 

Premiered by the Jean-Yves Fourmeau Quartet in 2003, Le Bal is a compositional tour de force for the saxophone quartet. At once improvisatory yet highly structured, Le Bal is a modern conception of a dance suite – a contemporary reinvention of J.S. Bach’s style. Though through-composed, this work alludes to classic dance styles including the waltz and tango (at times giving a nod to his other composition for saxophone quartet, Tango Virtuoso) while also evoking more contemporary, driving rock-and-roll sections. These disparate musical genres are seamlessly woven together with creative transitional sections – a technique Escaich regularly employs when connecting his personal works with those of the older masters in his own performances.

 

 

Ida Gotkovsky (b. 1933) was raised in a family of musicians; her father Jacques played second violin in the renowned Loewenguth String Quartet and her mother was also a violinist.  Gotkovsky’s siblings also studied music and she began composing when she was only eight years old. For her formal training, she attended the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. Among her mentors are Nadia Boulanger and Tony Aubin. Her compositions have earned many awards, including the Prix Lily Boulanger, Prix de SACEM, the Grand Prix Musical de la Ville de Paris, and the Medaille de La Ville de Paris. She boasts a widely varied catalog of works, including: chamber music, orchestral works, works for soloist with piano as well as with large ensemble accompaniment, ballet, opera, music for radio and television, and pedagogical works.

 

In the Quatuor, Gotkovsky's writing is both forceful and unpredictable. For example, in the first movement, Misterioso, she

deliberately obscures the meter, contrasting an insistent ostinato in the baritone set against a lyrical and ethereal melody in the upper voices. She uses soaring unison lines in both the third movement Linéaire, and in the fifth movement, Final. Her adept use of these unison passages connects the listener to the music in a visceral way that transcends the modern elements of her music, making this quartet approachable and attractive. The Final is one of the most recognizable movements in the saxophone quartet repertoire, a strong conclusion showcasing the power of the saxophone.

 

In addition to the Quatuor (1983), her works for saxophone include the Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra (1966), Eolienne for saxophone and harp (1979), Brillance for saxophone and piano (1974), Variations Pathétiques for saxophone and piano (1983), PoŹme Lyrique (1987), Inventions for baritone saxophone and piano (1988) and Golden Symphonie (1991). These works are widely performed, and have won broad acceptance into the repertoire for the instrument.