Fo[u]r Alto


sponsored by Landeshauptstadt Dresden, Amt für Kultur und Denkmalschutz

FO[U]R ALTO-Sounds under the microscope

Flickering, rushing, rubbing, scratching. The sound space of a saxophone is multilayered and wide, but many of its nooks and crannies usually remain hidden behind habit. The quartet FO[U]R ALTO sets out on a quest with its exceptionally fine and exciting music, probing the sound world of their instruments for undiscovered depths, elevations and spaces in between.

The unusual instrumentation of four alto saxophones already shows the quartet’s approach, which is determined by musical curiosity and the joy of experimentation. Although the four Berlin musicians Frank Gratkowski, Benjamin Weidekamp, Christian Weidner and Florian Bergmann have extensive experience in jazz, classical and new music, the music of FO[U]R ALTO cannot be confined within any genre boundaries. The ensemble’s tonal repertoire is not limited to the 12 tones of an octave that are common in the Western music world, but is expanded by microtonal, subtle intermediate frequencies that provide unusually dense and delicate harmonies. The use of cleavage sounds makes it possible to play several notes simultaneously, thus multiplying the dimensions of the interplay. Through numerous moments of improvisation, the four musicians are in permanent contact and constantly dynamic interaction.

The concerts of FO[U]R ALTO have a particularly intense atmosphere as a result. The audience and the musicians share the concentration on the jointly felt moment and enter into the spacious and nuanced sound spaces. A rare glimpse can then be caught, of the fascinating, microscopic texture of the sounds.

Sound under the microscope

Whirring, hissing, grating, scraping. Four alto saxophones scan the world of their sound for unknown depths, elevations and gaps. Fine microtones and multiphonics filled with friction create a soundsphere that is not infrequently reminiscent of the texture of electronic music and yet eludes genre boundaries of any sort.

Especially FO[U]R ALTO’s concerts, with their frequent improvisations, make for an exceptionally intense musical experience. Their concentration on the moment and on the nuanced structure of the pieces affords a rare insight into the microscopically fine texture of sound.

Massimo Maio