On June 6th 2021 in La Ràpita (Catalunya), I performed for the first time a set of original pieces for solo baritone saxophone that I named it after the international new music festival held yearly in Barcelona since 2012.
In 2018, I had the chance to participate as a performer in the Composition and Sound Experimentation Workshop of Mixtur Festival. There, I worked on ten different short pieces written for the occasion with their composers, both in the reading panels and in the preparation of the concert. Although all the works were really interesting, there were five that I found very special because of their approach to the instrument.
Due to the short duration of those pieces, I thought it would be easier to program them if I grouped them into a larger format, even though they can be perfectly played separately. With the approval of Isabel Benito, Florent Caron Darras, Hakki Cengiz Eren, Daniel Muñoz-Osorio and Demian Rudel Rey (in alphabetical order) and one of the festival directors, this is how the Mixtur Suite arose.
Although this is not a “conventional” suite (to skip the norms is sometimes necessary), all five pieces have common technical features (sound research, articulations, etc.) and, specially, a highly demanding interpretation.
For the elaboration of this post, I asked each composer to briefly comment on his work, accompanied with his corresponding recording, made at the Calafell Sound Recording Studio (Calafell, Catalonia/Spain) in June 2021 by Antonio Velasco. Here they are in the order in which I play them in concert.
TRAÇ 1, by Daniel Muñoz-Osorio
Range (written): A#2 – G5
TECHNIQUES: Diversity of slaps, diversity of articulations, trills and tremolos, extreme dynamics, sudden changes of dynamics, diversity of air sounds, flatter, ¼ tones, multiphonics, tonguing accuracy, fast excerpts, growl, key sounds.
Listen to it:
Traç I is the first of a series of short solo pieces that presents a compressed and heterogeneous musical structure of an agitated nature. It consists on the one hand by a varied range of impulses and flourished lines that are quickly interspersed, and on the other hand by a few very stable moments. The saxophone technique requires precise control for constant fundamental differences in articulation, color and character. (Daniel Muñoz-Osorio, 2021)
Read more about Daniel.
MINIATURE, by Florent Caron Darras
Range (written): A2 – F(1/4)5
TECHNIQUES: Diversity of articulations, flatter, extreme dynamics, sudden changes of dynamics, multiphonics, tonguing accuracy, very fast excerpts, bisbigliandi, ¼ tones.
Listen to it:
This miniature, written for Joan in 2018, was the occasion for a first work with the baritone saxophone, which I would later develop in two pieces, Projection and Technotope. I reduced the material to four elements: a more or less noisy held sound, a multiphonic sound, an ascending figure, and a more or less regular percussive sound. The challenge of this short piece is to establish an articulation between these elements, until some of them merge into the others. (Florent Caron Darras, 2021)
Read more about Florent.
QUASI UNO SPECCHIO, by Isabel Benito
Range (written): the lowest possible – the highest possible
TECHNIQUES: Flatter, air sounds (unpitched), use of voice, slaps, key sounds.
Listen to it:
As a composer, one of my main focuses is the combination between music and visual arts from different perspectives. After having created several multidisciplinary pieces, I decided to take this connection further by creating a musical work that could be seen as a piece of visual work at the same time. Besides, Quasi un Specchio (2020) reflects my interest in challenging conventional music notation. (Isabel Benito, 2021)
Read more about Isabel.
A STUDY IN DISTORTION, by Hakki Cengiz Eren
Range (written): Eb3 – F4
TECHNIQUES: Tonguing accuracy, diversity of articulations, diversity of slaps, ¼ tones, very fast excerpts, use of voice (the lowest possible towards the highest possible), intonation, multiphonics, separated overtones (partials).
Listen to it:
A Study in Distortion was written for Joan Martí-Frasquier, with whom we first worked on piece at the Composition and Sound Experimentation Workshop at Barcelona Mixtur Festival in April 2018. The piece revolves around a steady Ab; its inflections and tone colorings are subjected to constant change, which enhance the pitch with a gradually rising distortion level. (Hakki Cengiz Eren, 2021)
Read more about Cengiz.
MÉLANCOLIE I, by Demian Rudel Rey
Range (written): A2 – the highest possible
TECHNIQUES: Tonguing accuracy, multiphonics, slaps, very fast excerpts, extreme dynamics, sudden changes of dynamics, overtones, trills and tremolos, flatter, growl, extreme altissimo register, air sounds and transitions, vibratos and oscillations, use of voice, diversity of articulations.
Listen to it:
Mélancolie I (2018) – for baritone saxophone – it is a work inspired by the text El Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges. Mélancolie is a cycle of short pieces (either with or without electronics) where the timbric exploration in an exhaustive way of the instrument is the main axis. The pieces also address certain compositional issues related to miniature, form, stage presence, virtuosity and the relationship of the acoustic source with the electronics. (Demian Rudel Rey, 2021)
Read more about Demian.
I encourage you to work on this Suite and each of these pieces, of course.
Barcelona, July 2021
Updated in November 2023