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Roger Hanschel & Frankfurt Contemporary Quartet

Roger Hanschel
Frankfurt Contemporary Quartet
Roger Hanschel -- alto-, f-mezzo-, sopraninosaxophone
Freya Ritts-Kirby -- violin
Jagdish Mistry -- violin
Susan Knight -- viola
Michael Kasper -- cello

"Years of the fifth period" is a joint venture of the saxophone player Roger Hanschel with one of the most ambitious string ensembles of contemporary music. Hanschel has combined a fully composed part for the string quartet into and around which he repeatedly improvises on the saxophone. Dense, extreme rhythmically emphasized melodic weaves create the ideal soil for ecstatic saxophone passages. Contrasting to this are the endless possibilities of the coloring of the string quartet as pillow for the velvety saxophone sound. Music for the head and the heart.

Press Citations: Roger Hanschel & Frankfurt Contemporary Quartet

“Roger Hanschel’s composition cycle is intelligent chamber music with small improvisational insertions. It integrates various ethnic and historical idioms, as well as enlightened Cologne Jazz, serial and spontaneous music, all in a tight space and with well-considered concise means.... Hanschel composes far from the mainstream and at the height of the times like few others .... Hanschel exemplifies the same intelligent-integrative agility as a performing musician on the saxophone as he does as a composer. Technically he has everything at his disposal what we today call virtuosity and his culture of sound is breathtaking.”
Frankfurter Rundschau, 15 January 1998

“The serious rigor of the string quartet, the exemplary genre of classical music, and the improvisational freedom with which Roger Hanschel often raises this saxophone over the foundation of the string movements—both together retain their intrinsic value in the inner courtyard of this historical museum. Until the tones penetrate each other, mix into something new, for which the fashion word ‘cross-over’ is probably too worn out for Hanschel.” Frankfurter Rundschau, 16 August 1999

“Very seldom did he use the strings to deliver supporting sounds in order to have a good romp over them, or as background. No, Hanschel incorporated the quartet into his playing for its varying tonal colors, dense melody weaves and minimalist tonal paintings. One time, though, the woodwind took off in an interlude: a virtually endless monologue which used circular breathing and was loaded with effects, constructive and virtuous. No doubt, Hanschel is a perfectionist.” Kölner Stadt Anzeiger, 16 January 1998

“The music develops magnetic powers and polarizes. Whoever comes under its spell can lose himself in it.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14, August 1999

“... in his compositions Hanschel combines contemporary classical music and his experiences with jazz and improvised music into expressive and varied tonal images. Most of the time the saxophone stands on an equal basis with the strings and its rich over-tone sound complements and mixes excellently with them. The string movements are very carefully worked out and cleverly use the possibilities of the instruments. Bonner Rundschau, 14 January 2002

“... music for the head and belly” is what he has composed, says Roger Hanschel. He’s right, since what the exceptional saxophonist has succeeded at doing with this project ‘years of the fifth period’ cannot only be understood as an intellectual pleasure, but also a sensual one....” General-Anzeiger Bonn, 14 January 2002

„What first catches the attention is the lightness with which Hanschel succeeds in melding the sound of his saxophone with the so homogenous sound of the string quartet. In order to reach this, he uses his perfect intonation and a clear and clean sound, often without vibrato.
It is a matter here of a way of playing that is more similar to a classical musician of the French school than to a North American saxophone player. Using an aesthetic that prefers a sound of a sophisticated perfection, Hanschel fits conventional playing techniques into a naturalness that makes one forget how difficult the performance really is“.
Martin Liut, Buenos Aires 2001