Nuages - Scherzo, Eugene Bozza

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Nuages - Scherzo, Eugene Bozza
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Palm Beach Post (Palm Beach, FL)
Sunday, March 31, 1996
'Memories of You' are fond adieu for quartet
Bill F. Faucett

STUART - Upon taking my seat at the Lyric Theatre just prior to Friday night's concert by the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, I was reminded of a joke famous among musicians: "What do you call 10,000 saxophones at the bottom of the ocean?" Answer: "A good start."

But those of us with a less-than-tolerant attitude toward this oft-maligned instrument could not help but be thrilled with the work of the quartet. The ensemble played with confident virtuosity and superb musicianship; more importantly, they demonstrated there is much beauty to both the saxophone and its literature.

Most of the program comprised works composed specifically for a quartet of saxophones, which includes soprano, alto, tenor and baritone instruments.

The best among these compositions was Pierre Lantier's delightful Andante et Scherzino (1942). The lush first movement was highlighted by fine tenor saxophone playing by Stephen Rosenthal.

Saxophone Quartet (1967) by Alec Wilder, a songwriter whose significant achievements in instrumental music are inexplicably overlooked, was admirably performed.

Eugene Bozza's Nuages (1946) and Rocco DePietro's Phantom Melos (1981) were the most modernistic works on the concert. Bozza's dazzlingly energetic music borrowed from Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, while the DePietro piece, with its angular melodies and tired gimmickry, was of little interest.

The recital opened with an impressive performance of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for Organ (arranged for saxophone quartet), but more impressive was the finale, which included arrangements of music by Duke Ellington and Eubie Blake.

It was a splendid rendition of Blake's Memories of You that provided the best moments of the night.

Andante et Scherzetto, Pierre Lantier
Saxophone Quartet, Alec Wilder
Nuages - Scherzo, Eugene Bozza
Phantom Melos (1981), Rocco Di Pietro
Toccata and Fugue, Johann Sebastian Bach
Memories of You, Eubie Blake
'Memories of You' are fond adieu for quartet
Tucson Citizen (Tucson, AZ)
Friday, December 9, 1988
Amherst Sax Quartet puts on arresting performance

Amherst Sax Quartet puts on arresting performance Many a Centennial Hall patron headed into the cold night air last night, half expecting some kind of punishment. They had been warned by the Amherst Saxophone Quartet's tenor player, Stephen Rosenthal. "This is a classical concert," he told the crowd. "Anyone caught enjoying themselves will be asked to leave." The entire hall was not forcibly ejected, despite blatant waves of laughter that accompanied Rosenthal's deadpan "introductions" to the works on the program and the subtler smiling that came from the group's capricious playing Therefore, it was logical to believe that lines of paddy wagons might be waiting outside to round up the offenders as they exited. Cheated the law again. On the other hand, the audience had cooperated where cooperation was most needed. It did not dance in the aisles as the group tossed Bach's "Fugue in G-alla Gigue" back and forth amongst its ranks, making the music ebb and flow with lyrical grace. Nor did the crowd jump up and wag its fingers as Amherst took Bach's "Badinerie" from "Suite No. 2 in B minor" at a peppy clip with cartoonish zestiness and flourishes of humor. Admittedly, the crowd may have lost points for not quickly coming to the realization that the three Bach works were individual pieces, not movements, and it would be alright to clap in between. Or it may have been that the sweet sound of the music- sort of a collection of sugary outtakes from a Paul Whiteman movie-distracted them from keeping an eye on their watches with waves of pleasant nostalgia. By that time, the scoring had become too complex to figure, so the only thing to do was kick back and enjoy the quirky beauty of Ira Kraemers's "Petite Suite." The three-note rhythmic bursts and ambiguous harmonies of the opening "Prelude" movement gave Amherst a chance to show off its tight, clock-like precision playing. The upbeat midsection of the following "Nocturne" movement pitted pairs of saxophones against each other, one half providing melody to the other's bracing melody and harmony lines, while the Fellini-like "Vaudeville" movement brought the work to a carnivalesque close. The dizzying sins of Bozza's "Nuages-Scherzo," a sort of "Flight of the Bumblebee" for sax quartet, brought work of fleet perfection from the quartet. On the second half, the arrangement of Verdi's La Forza Del Destino" overture lacked the power it needed, though in the peppier, Rossini-like passages, Amherst excelled. The Gershwin medley, however was an undeniable hit. Few composers' music so aptly fits this assemblage of forces as well as Gershwin's and Amherst sunk its reeds into the syncopated rhythms, rootie-tootie ensemble harmonies and bluesy melodies, literally kicking up a heel apiece in the final tune, "I've Got Rhythm." Perhaps the best works on the program were Andrew White's "Jazz Vignettes" Nos. 8 and 1. No. 8 saw the quartet transform itself into a compressed version of the Count Basie horn section that left you half expecting the steady spank of CB sideman Freddie Green's guitar at any moment. No. 1 "Impressions," gave the sense that the asymmetrical moving undercurrent pianist McCoy Tyner brought to John Coltrane's work had been liquefied and poured into their instruments, only to bubble out beneath soprano saxman Salvatore Andolina's Trane-like flights.

Nuages - Scherzo, Eugene Bozza
Jazz Vignettes, Andrew White, III
Maui News, The (Maui, HI)
Tuesday, November 8, 1988
After Amherst, audience knew they'd had good sax
Joan Hayden

The Amherst Saxophone Quartet was the focus of a delightful and unusual chamber music concert held Saturday at the Makawao Union Church. In this intimate setting, the quartet allowed us a close and generous look at their diverse talents. Amply rewarded for taking a chance, the audience was serenaded, dazzled, teased and cajoled with the warm wit of tenor saxophonist Stephen Rosenthal, and the virtuoso playing of the ensemble. Rosenthal, the evenings raconteur, included a vignette of the quartet's development and the history of the saxophone as well as the available repertoire for saxophone quartet. His dialogue liberally sprinkled with musical jokes kept the audience enchanted and quite off-guard, twittering with laughter when the music began. The music was no less engrossing. Alto saxophonist Michael Nascimben holds a doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan. Four of his arrangements were performed during the evening. They ranged from the opening Bach grouping of three short pieces, Fugue in G, Air from the Suite in D for orchestra, better known as the Air for the G String (violin transcription), and Badinerie from the B minor suite No. 2 for flute and orchestra, to the closing Ragtime finale. In between were his Gershwin Medley and his arrangement of Verdi's La Forza Del Destino overture. The familiar opening Bach pieces allowed the audience to respond to the beautiful and sonorous colors of this unusual consort of instruments. Next was a serious work by Belgian composer Joseph Jongen, Quartet for Saxophones, Opus 122 in freely rhapsodic style, which was written in 1942, exactly 100 years after the saxophone was invented by another Belgian working in Paris, Adolph Sax. His invention of adding a reed mouthpiece to a brass instrument resulted in this unique cross between brass and woodwind instruments. The Jongen composition was impressionistic with jazz influences, the finale demonstrating the big sound capabilities of this combo. Petite Suite, especially written for the Amherst Quartet by Ira Kraemer and Scherzo from Nuages (Clouds) by Eugene Bozza, a fantastic perpetual motion concluded the first half. The second half of the program beginning with Verdi, lush and lyrical, moved into the familiar Gershwin melodies, Fascinatin Rhythm, Embraceable You, Somebody Loves Me, Someone to Watch Over Me, and I Got Rhythm. Here, the sound of the sax is familiar, ingrained in our lives. Jazz Vignettes by Andrew White followed two superbly facile and fluid pieces, the second, Impression, after John Coltrane. Closing were the Rags from footpatting to elegant and polished, enough to satisfy your heart.

Nuages - Scherzo, Eugene Bozza