Hailed by The Los Angeles Times for “remarkable examples of virtuosity,” the PRISM Quartet presents stunning saxophone quartet adaptations of masterworks from the Western canon. The program features three anthologies: the New York premiere of A Schumann Bouquet, Pulitzer Prize-winner William Bolcom’s transcription of piano works from Album for the Young by Robert Schumann, presented as a gift to PRISM in 2015; the world premiere of Nine for Four, North Carolina composer Lawrence Dillon’s book of works by Guillaume de Machaut, Josquin des Prez, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, and Alexander Scriabin; and Pagine (Pages), Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino’s setting of works by Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Domenico Scarlatti, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin.
The saxophone is a relatively young instrument, patented by Adolphe Sax in 1846. When the PRISM Quartet was founded in 1984, the body of available saxophone quartet repertoire was modest, and came primarily from mid-20th century French conservatory composers, including Pierre Lantier, Pierre Max Dubois, and Alfred Desenclos, names not widely known outside of classical saxophone circles. In recognizing this paucity of music, PRISM dedicated itself to spurring the creation of a new repertoire, prioritizing commissions from preeminent American composers who have never written for the medium, including winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and MacArthur “Genius” Award. PRISM has recorded and toured internationally with many of the more than 250 works it has commissioned over its 32-year history.
In addition to composing original works for saxophone, William Bolcom, Lawrence Dillon, and Salvatore Sciarrino share PRISM’s interest in exploring the saxophone quartet’s expressivity by connecting it to Western music’s rich heritage. These anthologies reflect the three composers’ own musical sensibilities, and the saxophone’s significance as an emblem of contemporary culture.