Enchainment (1981), Robert Mols

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Enchainment (1981), Robert Mols
Year of Composition: 1981     Composed for the ASQ

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Recordings

Amherst Saxophone Quartet: Creston, Mols, Parisi, Wilder
Amherst Saxophone Quartet: Creston, Mols, Parisi, Wilder
Salvatore Andolina, soprano
Michael Nascimben, alto
Stephen Rosenthal, tenor
Harry Fackelman, baritone
1984

AMHERST SAXOPHONE QUARTET

ALEC WILDER was born in Rochester, New York on February 16, 1907. He studied composition with Herbert Inch and Edward Royce. Wilder was best known for his work in New York City as a composer of music for the theater, radio, and films. He wrote popular songs and arranged music for Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, and others. He was also a prolific composer of "concert music," especially for wind instruments. Most of his serious compositions, in particular his chamber music, are in an affable, hedonistic, and ingratiating style, according to Baker. The SAXOPHONE QUARTET fits this characterization perfectly.

SAXOPHONE QUARTET
"The Wilder QUARTET was purchased in late 1980 as part of the continuous process of upgrading our library. Our first official performance of this work occurred on November 4, 1981. The period between the purchase and the' performance began with an argument within the quartet which took more than a year to resolve. Our initial reading of the work brought out numerous harmonic and melodic peculiarities which were the subject of much heated discussion. I felt some of this manuscript was not what the composer had originally intended. After much discussion and further rehearsing it was decided to try to get a score. Through the courtesy of Bruce Creditor, the general manager of Margun Music, Inc., we received a photocopy of the original pencil score. In spite of the difficulty in reading the copy, a great many questions were answered, mostly in the realm of transpositional discrepancies from score to parts. In a few instances I felt it was necessary to actually change some pitches because they were either indecipherable or did not make harmonic sense. The end result of all this editing was over ISO changes in the four saxophone parts. These changes were made in the hopes of recovering and maintaining the spirit, intent, and integrity of the original work. The QUARTET certainly has become one of our favorite works and will always hold a respected position in our repertoire." —Dr. Michael D. Nascimben

ROBERT MOLS, a native of Buffalo, New York, attended the Eastman School of Music where he obtained his Ph.D. degree and performance certificate on flute. At Eastman, he studied composition with Howard Hanson and Wayne Barlow. He also did advanced study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. In 1953 he joined the faculty at the University of Buffalo as head of the theoretical and instrumental divisions.

As a composer and recipient of grants and commissions, his compositions have received numerous performances in this country and abroad, including performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Several works for flute, including "Excursion" for flute choir, were recently published by the Franzipani Press.

ENCHAINMENT
"Having written many dance band arrangements as a saxophonist-clarinetist during my early professional career, I was truly excited when asked by the Amherst Saxophone Quartet to write a concert piece for them. Knowing each of the players personally, their exceptional skills and musicianship, and their great ensemble, I knew what sort of piece I wanted to compose — lyric, expressive, partially jazzy, innovative, and with some special effects and blends. All of these elements were to be linked or 'chained' together to form one continuous through-composed movement in three basic sections — hence, ENCHAINMENT." —Robert Mols

STEPHEN PARISI was born on November 11, 1955 in Buffalo, New York to music-loving parents who started him on piano at the age of seven. At age fifteen, he became a student of Ann Moot, who was very inspirational both musically and creatively. His ambition to become a composer led him to the State University of New York at Buffalo on full scholarship. He studied composition with Leo Smit and has obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Music degree. Mr. Parisi currently divides his time between teaching, performing and composing. He lives in Grand Island, New York with his wife and daughter.

INTRODUCTION AND CAPRICCIO
The INTRODUCTION opens choral-like in nature and is transformed into a dialogue between soprano and alto saxophones leading to a sonorous climax. The movement returns to the long lyrical phrases and choral texture of the opening measures.

The CAPRICCIO is a juxtaposition of themes or episodes of various kinds which follow one another. This wide variety of textures give the piece the aspect of caprice from which its name is derived.

"I feel my purpose or goal as a composer is to arouse and use the listeners' stream of consciousness from the first note to the last, while at the same time exemplifying some type of musical structure." —Stephen Parisi

PAUL CRESTON was born on October 10, 1906, in New York City, of Italian parentage. Completely self-taught in composition and orchestration, he has contributed a full range of music with over 120 major works: piano pieces, songs, chamber music for various instrumental combinations, choral works, cantatas, an oratorio, ten symphonic band works, and over 35 orchestral works which include six symphonies and 15 concertos.

His numerous awards and honors include: Music Critics' Circle Award and First Prize in the Paris International Referendum of 1952 for his Symphony No.1; National Institute of Arts and Letters award; two Citations of Honor from the National Association for American Composers and Conductors; and two Guggenheim Fellowships. In 1960 he received a State Department grant as American Specialist in Israel and Turkey.

SUITE FOR SAXOPHONE QUARTET
The SUITE was composed in 1979 and premiered the same year by the Swiss Saxophone Quartet at the Saxophone Congress held in Chicago. The work is his fifth and latest for Saxophone. The other four are: SUITE, Op.6 - Saxophone and Piano, SONATA, Op. 19 - Saxophone and Piano, CONCERTO, Op. 26 - Saxophone and Orchestra or Symphony Band, and RHAPSODIE, Op. 108 - Saxophone and Organ or Piano.

The SUITE FOR SAXOPHONE QUARTET is vintage Creston and confirms his acknowledged love of the instrument. The unusual "alert" rhythms, sensuous lyricism, rich harmonies, and structural solidity which have been the hallmark of Creston's style, are constantly in evidence. His clear understanding of the instrument's technique was gained from his association with saxophonist Cecil Leeson as pianist for his recitals, and for whom he wrote the first three works for the instrument.

AMHERST SAXOPHONE QUARTET
The AMHERST SAXOPHONE QUARTET has performed in the United States from coast to coast, has been broadcast on national radio on numerous occasions, and is regularly heard throughout the world on Voice of America. The group was formed in 1978 and continues with the original members. It has played more than 50 concerts a year since 1981. The New York Times called the first of the Quartet's Carnegie Hall concerts "first rate in every respect."

The Amherst Quartet performs the standard works composed for saxophone quartet. In addition to this large repertoire, it has developed a unique library of manuscripts which includes many commissions and also music of the Baroque era, Jazz, Avant Garde, and Ragtime. The group's close association with renowned composer-pianist Eubie Blake resulted in a recording of his delightful rags.

Along with a busy chamber music schedule, the ASQ has appeared as guest soloist with orchestras including both the Rochester and Buffalo Philharmonics.

SALVATORE ANDOLINA, soprano, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and John Sedola and clarinet with James Pyne and Stanley Hasty. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music from the State University of New York at Buffalo which he attended on an Arts Foundation scholarship. Mr. Ao/iolina was bass clarinet/saxophonist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the 1978-79 season, clarinetist with that orchestra for the 1983-84 season, and has performed with the Artpark Orchestra.

MICHAEL NASCIMBEN, alto, studied saxophone with Larry Teal and Sigurd Rascher. He received both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan. Dr. Nascimben has served on the faculties of the University of Texas at Austin and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has performed with the Detroit Symphony, Austin Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and was a founding member of the West Point Saxophone Quartet. Dr. Nascimben is an Artist/Clinician with the Selmer Saxophone Company.

STEPHEN ROSENTHAL, tenor, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and John Sedola, and clarinet with James Pyne. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music Performance from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Rosenthal has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Empire State Wind Ensemble.

HARRY FACKELMAN, baritone, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and clarinet with Allen Sigel. He received a Master of Fine Arts in Music from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Fackelman has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Empire State Wind Ensemble.

THIS RECORDING PROJECT IS SUPPORTED BY A GRANT FROM THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.

Executive Producer: Vincent S. Morene
Recorded in Christ the King Chapel at Canisius College, Buffalo, NY
Recording Engineer: Frederick A. Betschen Jr., Assistant Engineer: Mark J. Morette
Mastering: The Groove Shop, Engineer: Bob Grotke
Album Design: Mary Lu Littlefield
Photography: Mary Fote, Joe Saccomanno
Type: Printing Prep

Review

Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Thursday, April 23, 1998
Saxophone Quartet, going to school
Herman Trotter

Iroquois High School was host, on Wednesday evening, to the first of four concerts concluding the Amherst Saxophone Quartet's 1997 -98 season, and also to the premiere performance of a work by a member of the Iroquois senior class, Nathan Bisco.

The concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Friday in Slee Hall on the DB North Campus, at 7 p.m. May 4 in Olmsted School 56, and at 8 p.m. May 13 in the Bijou Grille.

The theme of the concerts is Fast Forward, as the quartet looks to the future with five new works, after having opened with three pieces written for them over the past two decades.

Particularly in this location, Bisco's "Down This Dark Road" became the center of attention, and deserved it. The 10-minute work is confidently developed, with a remarkably mature sense of voice movement and varying textures, plus extremely effective but not overworked use of brief silences as a structural element.

As the title suggests, the music could be considered a narrative, with a pensive, questioning opening answered with dissonances that pique the curiosity. The soprano points the way into a wandering section with mysterious side noises, followed by a fast section suggesting running away from some threat and accelerating to a brisk staccato gait.

Again the soprano points to a calmer journey with unusual low register alto sonorities, and a baritone solo guiding the way to an intensifying development and an expansively ruminating conclusion. It's an impressive Opus 1 for Bisco, given a very fine performance.

The concert had opened with Robert Mols' 1981 "Enchainment," with its warm harmonies, smooth-as-silk textures, and mixture of classical and jazz ambience, followed by David Stock's 1990 "Sax Appeal," whose four movements intriguingly evoked everything from 1940s big band flavors to a variety of noodly, pulsing, herky-jerky rhythms in incessant motion.

Nils Vigeland's 1991 "Nine Waltzes and an Ecossaise," reportedly a tribute to Schubert, saluted the composer with bizarre but not irreverent extrapolations of conventional waltz rhythms and lilts.

The immaculate ensemble stood out in the concluding new jazz arrangements, particularly Steve Parisi's attractive and tightly rhythmic "Academy Street," a soulful arrangement of Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss," and Russ Carere's "All Right Blues," with 1940s big band riffs, wonderful walking bass lines, ping-ponging of phrases among the instruments, and a wild glissando ending.

Down this Dark Road, Nathan Bisco
Enchainment (1981), Robert Mols
Nine Waltzes and an Ecossaise (1991), Nils Vigeland
All Right Blues (1996), Russ Carere
Saxophone Quartet, going to school
Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Monday, February 25, 1991
Listeners come to watch saxophone music
Herman Trotter

Seven artists respond graphically to Amherst Quartet's performance
The idea behind this collaboration, called "Music at an Exhibition," was rather accurately described as the reverse of the process which produced Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."

In 1862 Mussorgsky composed a suite of 10 pieces with connecting "promenade" passages evoking in tones the flavors of drawings and watercolors by Victor Hartmann.

And in 1991, at the suggestion of the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, Director Anthony Bannon of the Burchfield Art Center invited seven artists to listen to tapes of the music to be performed by the quartet and respond graphically to their perceptions of the sounds.

It's significant that four of the seven artists chose to respond to Andrew Stiller's Chamber Symphony. But it's not all that surprising, because of the four works played by the quartet Stiller's had decidedly the most distinctive and memorable profile.

Its first-movement excursion into dissonant quarter tones seemed to impair the progress of the music rather painfully, but the warmly harmonized plaint of the slow movement, the jabbering and punchy textures of the Menuetto and the tight, precipitous runs and devilishly sinuous lines of the Presto were exceptionally well played.

Upstairs in the Burchfield Art Center, Ann Koziol Stevens' collage "White on White" caught the feeling of some of Stiller's tight, homogeneous textures quite well and Sue Katz's "Sonata Form ABA," three white, cubic, jungle gym-like constructions of stoneware, wooden sticks and string showed sensitivity to its form.

Beforehand, Alfonso Volo's acrylic caricatures of four instruments with outlandish human features seemed pointless, but after hearing the whimsical-to-bitter character of Stiller's Menuetto, Volo's perception seemed apt.

Only one other musical work was singled out by an artist. Belgian composer Jean Absil's "Quatuor pour Saxophones" moved Carol Townsend to produce freely suspended, rotating cornucopia-like constructions whose misshapen bodies looked like caterpillar larvae, while their horn-bell openings suggested the angular contours and rich sonorities which emerged from the saxophone bells during Absil's work.

In Buffalo composer Robert Mols' "Enchainment" the tight passage work, elemental gestures and the seeming struggle between sustaining tones and energetic flights were played by the quartet with excellent ensemble.

And David Deason's Saxophone Quartet, an enigmatic mix of endearing and offputting passages, was also extremely well played, from what I could tell on first hearing.

But none of the artists chose to interpret any impressions gleaned from these two works.

In response to "all the music," James Pappas provided nine paper panels of abstract scratchings, some of which vaguely suggested musical notation in various stages of disarray.

Rosemarie Bauer-Sroka took a similar overview, and produced "Musical Gardens," an oil on foam painting whose thin-lined geometric shapes and vivid colors spoke of great organizational ability but didn't seem to evoke any feelings I got from the music.

The other artist who felt a message in Stiller's music was photographer Mark Dellas, whose untitled black and white photo of a dominant shoulder and partial torso wearing a tank top was fine as a life study but had no connection to the music that I could determine.

In the end, I'd rather applaud the idea of "Music at an Exhibition" than linger over the less than complete success achieved. Perhaps if the artists had been turned loose on a program with more familiar music such as the Bach, Gershwin and Eubie Blake which are in the quartet's repertoire, the artistic results might have had more obvious connections with the musical process.

Chamber Symphony (1983), Andrew Stiller
Quatuor pour saxophones, op. 31, Jean Absil
Enchainment (1981), Robert Mols
Quartet, David Deason
Listeners come to watch saxophone music

Composer Biography

ROBERT MOLS, a native of Buffalo, NY, attended the Eastman School of Music where he obtained his Ph.D. degree and performance certificate on flute. At Eastman, he studied composition with Howard Hanson and Wayne Barlow. He also did advanced study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. In 1953 he joined the faculty at the University at Buffalo as head of the theoretical and instrumental divisions.

As a composer and recipient of grants and commissions, his compositions have received numerous performances in this country and abroad, including performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Several works for flute, including Excursion for flute choir, were published by the Franzipani Press.

Composition Notes

"Having written dance band arrangements as a saxophonist-clarinetist during my early professional career, I was truly excited when asked by the ASQ to write a concert piece. Knowing each of the players personally, their exceptional skills and musicianship, and their great ensemble, I knew what sort of piece I wanted to compose — lyric, expressive, partially jazzy, innovative, and with some special effects and blends. All of these elements were to be linked or 'chained' together to form one continuous through-composed movement in three basic sections — hence, Enchainment." — Robert
Mols