Tell no more of Enchanted Days (1992), Mark Engebretson

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Tell no more of Enchanted Days (1992), Mark Engebretson
Year of Composition: 1992    


Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Sunday, February 28, 1999
Quartet's newest member contributing quickly
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.

Ave Maria, Josquin Desprez
Quatuor (1931), Alexander Glazunov
Tell no more of Enchanted Days (1992), Mark Engebretson
New York Counterpoint (1985), Steve Reich
Quartet's newest member contributing quickly

Composer Biography

1964 —

MARK ENGEBRETSON, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Composition at SUNY Fredonia, has received numerous commissions from the Austrian Ministry of Culture as well as from STIM (Sweden) and the American Composers Forum. His works have been performed in concerts and at festivals around the world, such as Wien Modern (Vienna), Gaida Festival (Vilnius, Lithuania), Horgange Festival (Vienna), Filharmonia Hall (Bialystock, Poland), Ny Musikk (Bergen, Norway), Theatre la Chapelle, (Montreal), Indiana State University New Music Festival (Terre Haute, IN), ISCM Festival (Tirana, Albania), World Saxophone Congresses (Pesaro, Italy, Montreal) and on Stockholm Radio. Mr. Engebretson received a Fulbright Fellowship for studies in France with Jean-Marie Londeix (saxophone) and Michel Fuste-Lambezat (composition). He holds a doctorate in music composition at Northwestern University where he studied saxophone with Frederick Hemke and composition with M. William Karlins, Pauline Oliveros, Marta Ptaszynska, Michael Pisaro, Stephen Syverud and Jay Alan Yim.

As a performer, he was a member of the Vienna Saxophone Quartet from 1992-1999. In addition to performances all over the world with the Quartet, he has performed in many countries as soloist with orchestra, in recital and as a chamber musician, particularly with Susan Fancher, Swedish percussionist Anders Astrand, and the Chicago-based ensemble MeloMania!.

Composition Notes

Tell No More of Enchanted Days was written in 1992 for the Vienna Saxophone Quartet. It is in four movements of different forms, all of which together form a single large-scale arc. The first movement is in ABA form, the second in "circular" form (it has a melody, then an improvisation section which repeats ad libitum, then a return to the melody), the third movement was conceived of in the shape of an abstract line drawing, and the fourth is a simple arc. The piece, though not programmatic, was inspired by James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. All manner of techniques playable on the saxophone are employed, from simple melody to quarter-tones and multiphonics (the playing of more than one pitch at a time on a single saxophone). The score incorporates an array of notational techniques, ranging from standard notation to spatial notation. -Mark Engebretson