OXYTON, Christophe Havel


Image from video recording of the work in 2011

OXYTON is indeed a masterpiece of the contemporary repertoire for baritone saxophone. For this reason, I decided to open my first solo album BELIEVER (INS Records, 2015) with this impressive work. Indispensable!

The composer

CHRISTOPHE HAVEL (1956), a formed saxophone player, leads an intense activity as a composer and performer. He is currently professor of electroacoustic music composition at the CRR of Bordeaux (France) and the ESMUC of Barcelona (Spain). He is also a member of the well-known French contemporary music ensemble Proxima Centauri.

Click here to read more about the composer.

Details of the work

Publisher: P. J. Tonger Musikverlag, Köln-Rodenkirchen (GER)
Duration: Around 9:00
Range (written): A2 – Bb6
TECHNIQUES: Multiphonics, extreme dynamics (ffff-pppp), slaps, tonguing accuracy, diversity of articulations, flatter, extreme altissimo register, glissandi, ¼ tones, vibrato and oscillations, very fast excerpts, sudden changes of elements and expression, performative interpretation.
PERFORMANCE: To play with lots of expressive energy. Many varied contrasted and sudden changes. Scenic attitude.

Meaning and structure

“It is a multiple cry which gradually oxidizes and dematerializes itself. Its steely resonances, at the sweet scent of acid, converge towards infinity of immobility” (Christophe Havel)

OXYTON, for baritone saxophone solo, was written in 1991 and dedicated to Marie-Bernadette Charrier, a great French saxophonist of contemporary music, member of Proxima Centauri and also professor at Conservatoire de Bordeaux (France). It was edited in 1993.

Although being a solo work, it shows clearly the influence of electronic music with the use of sound textures such as multiphonics, flatterzunges (granular textures), vibrato and oscillations changes and sudden termination of sound.

OXYTON is a piece of great contrasts. We can hear it, for instance, on its two most basic compositional elements, represented by an acid and metallic chord (multiphonic) and, on the other hand, a very fast and articulated melodic motif of three notes. Furthermore, its character leads us to moments of maximum agitation and of extreme calm. All these contrasts often appear suddenly.

OXYTON is a very demanding work because of its difficult technical elements and its very expressive and powerful performance. As it happens with all masterpieces from other instruments, a detailed work on OXYTON will help you reach a great technical mastery of the baritone saxophone. When I perform it back after some time, I always realize that I have strengthened my technique and matured the interpretation and conception of this work.

Do you want to work on OXYTON with me? Don’t hesitate to contact me

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