Times & Spaces

by h2 quartet

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Times & Spaces represents a strong group of established and emerging composers who all embody the spirit and the revered aesthetics of American art music. Simple and beautiful melodies, the deft use and juxtaposition of open and close sonorities, and the powerful rhythms which drive much of American music; each of the composers on the project make use of these same elements, but throw them into a different light, which allows their music to materialize as fresh and inspiring to both seasoned classical listeners and newcomers alike. Philip Glass is among the most recognized American composers worldwide and is also undoubtedly the most important living composer to have written for the saxophone. Glass’ simplicity in rhythm and melody is well documented, and this work is a fine example of his characteristically sensitive writing. However, he also introduces a pounding 7/8 rhythm in the second movement that features an exciting baritone saxophone solo. We hope that the inclusion of Glass’s Concerto in our recording project will expand our potential audience to include those who appreciate his brand of contemporary music, in turn exposing them to other young American composers whose works deserve to be heard. Roger Petersen’s Chasing the Silence features whisper-quiet melodies that blossom into soaring ensemble chorales. The melodic sections are interrupted by fast, hard-driving rhythmic sections that are continuously accented by saxophone tongue slaps. David MacDonald’s Falling Up the Down Escalator features a crunchy 5/16 rhythm that is passed around the ensemble for much of the work, and seems to constantly trip over itself, denying the listener any sense of rhythmic regularity. The chaos finally capitulates into a tonal fugue in 4/4, leading to the climax of the work. Perhaps even more rhythmically complex is Takuma Itoh’s Echo-location, a work comprised of competing polyrhythms, unique sounds formed from extended techniques, drastic dynamic fluctuations, and the occasional melody. Finally, established winds composer John Mackey brings a world music approach to a rare chamber work. Strange Humors features the African djembe drum along with the saxophone quartet, and combines pulsating rhythms from the ensemble with Middle Eastern melodies shared between all four voices. Mackey’s work calls to mind another important aspect of American music: the fact that we are a nation of immigrants, and we have incorporated many foreign influences to form our own indigenous art.


released April 26, 2010

Sergei Kvitko, engineer



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h2 quartet Detroit, Michigan

Declared “an ensemble to watch for years to come” by the American Record Guide, the award-winning h2 quartet has been wowing audiences since 2002. A dynamic and innovative chamber ensemble, h2 constantly seeks to defy perceptions and expectations, using the saxophone as an instrument uniquely empowered to provide listeners with a compelling range of musical experiences. ... more

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