„Ich war zutiefst beeindruckt von der musikalischen Ausdruckskraft und der technischen Perfektion“
("I was deeply touched by the immense musical expression and the technical perfection")
Günter Pichler, Alban Berg Quartett
The Xenon Saxophone Quartet is a cutting-edge ensemble in the world of chamber music. Ever since its foundation in 2010 this young ensemble, the winner of many international prizes, has presented variegated, contrasty programmes combining classical music with contemporary compositions, including world premieres or forgotten works from past centuries, classical string quartets and original pieces for saxophone quartet.
The ensemble takes its name from xenon, an extremely rare noble gas. Among the noble gases, this monatomic element is capable of entering the greatest number of chemical compounds, and thus embodies the quartet’s ideal of interplay and ensemble sonority. Its initial, “X”, symbolises the fact that, through work, four individualists with the right chemistry and a passion for the saxophone and unusual concert programmes have coalesced into a single artistic unity. Together they develop performances that preserve the spirit of their chosen compositions while satisfying their desire for individual expression.
The quartet’s members – Lukas Stappenbeck (soprano), Anže Rupnik (alto), Sandra Rijavec (tenor) and Benjamin Reichel (baritone) – all studied with Daniel Gauthier at Cologne University of Music and Dance, where they took master’s degrees in chamber music and contemporary music. They also received major impetus and insights from such leading musicians as Ulrich Isfort (Minguet Quartet), Günter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartet), Heime Müller (a former member of the Artemis Quartet), Dirk Mommertz (Fauré Quartet), Hans-Dietrich Klaus and David Smeyers.
Xenon collaborates with contemporary composers and commissions them to write new pieces for saxophone quartet. Recent examples include Daniel Alvarado Bonilla, Damian Scholl and Macarena Rosmanich. The four musicians also work directly with composers to prepare performances of existing works, most recently the Saxophone Quartet of Georg Friedrich Haas.
A scholarship recipient of the German National Music Competition (Deutscher Musikwettbewerb), the Xenon Saxophone Quartet gives concerts in Germany and abroad, appears at such festivals as the Ludwigsburg Palace Festival, takes part in Yehudi Menuhin’s LiveMusicNow in Cologne and performs with various broadcasting corporations (DLF, WDR, NDR, MDR and SWR). In 2021 Xenon Quartet won the 1. Prize and the audience award at the prestigious the “August Everding" Music Competition 2020 for saxophone quartet of the Münchener Konzertverein e.V.“
“Dedicated to” is the Xenon Saxophone Quartet’s début CD.
Exciting, adventurous and daring, fearless of euphony and complexity, with a strong penchant for the off-kilter: the prizewinning saxophone quartet Xenon displays all these qualities on its début CD, dedicated to, a combination of classical works originally written for strings and new 21st-century pieces composed for saxophone quartet. Here the premier recording of Viridian Vestiges, specially written for Xenon by the 35-year-old Franco-Columbian composer Daniel Alvarado Bonilla, and the first European recording of Saxophone Quartet by one of today’s leading proponents of Spectralism, Georg Friedrich, stand side by side with Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Mozart’s String Quartet No. 21 in D major and Puccini’s Crisantemi. The selected works all share the idea of dedication,with each dedication influencing the work concerned. Mozart, for example, made the cello part in his string quartet (taken here by the baritone saxophone) just as prominent as the violin part, for the simple reason that the king of Prussia was an avid cellist and Mozart wanted to gain his patronage. Alvarado Bonilla, in his Viridian Vestiges, transformed Miles Davis’s jazz standard Blue in Green because he was deeply affected by the almost impressionist, subtly floating, melancholy pianism of Bill Evans.