Quartet's newest member contributing quickly

Works reviewed: 
Ave Maria, Josquin Desprez
Quatuor (1931), Alexander Glazunov
Tell no more of Enchanted Days (1992), Mark Engebretson
New York Counterpoint (1985), Steve Reich
Buffalo News
Buffalo, NY
Feb 28 1999
By: 
Garaud MacTaggart

Soprano saxophonist Susan Fancher, the latest addition to the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, has made an immediate impact.
Not only has the group gotten the services of another fine musician, but her versatile arrangements are adding some new life to an already interesting ensemble.
This was apparent at Saturday afternoon’s fine Slee Hall concert where three of the five compositions played were set by Fancher, and one came into the quartet’s repertoire by the happy fact of her marriage to composer Mark Engebretson. The only standard work for saxophone quartet played by the group was a piece by Alexander Glazunov.
Two snippets from 15th century master Josquin des Pres opened the program. “El Grillo” was a lively little tune, but the somewhat longer “Ave Maria” was a meatier example of Josquin’s superb part writing. Next up was a wonderful rendition of the Glazunov quartet with thinly disguised Russian folk themes rearing their heads in the finale.
The Engebretson piece, “Tell no more of Enchanted Days,” led off the second half of the concert and proved to be quite interesting.
As a saxophonist himself, Engebretson crafted the music to lie well beneath the musician’s fingertips while engaging in a series of standard late 20th-century compositional tools.
Included in this palette of sounds were over-blowing, quarter tones and, during the second movement, one part where the tenor saxophonist, Stephen Rosenthal, moved his instrument closer to a microphone and then played on the keys without blowing into the mouthpiece. It provided an interesting percussive effect as the keys made subtly different sounds depending on their location on the body of the instrument.
Fancher’s arrangement of Steve Reich’s “New York Counterpoint” is, evidently, already a fixture in the arsenal of other saxophone quartets. It features a prerecorded group (on CD) of seven saxophones playing music while a live quartet of saxophonists plays against and with the recording. It is, essentially, another one of those experiments with tape loops and real-time music that has been a feature of much later 20th-century music but updated with a digital twist.

Quartet's newest member contributing quickly