Composer Tomas Korber and Konus Quartett both have a decade and a half under the musical belts. In 2011, Konus commissioned Korber to write a concert-length work for saxophone quartet and live electronics. That invitation resulted in the well-received Musik für ein Feld, recorded in 2014. Their new collaboration is a challenging work entitled Anschluss.
On paper, Konus Quartett’s line-up is conventional: Jonas Tschanz and Fabio Oehrli are both on soprano saxophone. Christian Kobi performs on tenor saxophone and Stefan Rolli on baritone saxophone. This is no jazz group though. Their resume includes recordings and performances of compositions by Barry Guy, Jürg Frey, Klaus Lang, Martin Brandlmayr and Chiyoko Szlavnics.
For much of Anschluss, the saxophone performances are all but unrecognizable. Korber has processed the quartet’s playing heavily, producing a kind of stormy sound sculpture.
Its range is considerable, from breathy gentleness to please-turn-that-down punishing. The recording is best understood as an electronic work, but it’s one underpinned by inspired saxophone performances.
Korber was born in Zurich in 1979. He has written and performed improvised music for guitar and electronics. Not surprisingly, he has been invited to compose for both dance and theatre. He has toured across Europe, Japan and North America.
The Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Zurich awarded him a biannual artist residency in New York City back in 2009. And he’s a big believer in collaboration. His partners have included Tetuzi Akiyama, Olivia Block, Hans Koch, Lê Quan Ninh, Toshimaru Nakamura and Christian Wolfarth.
Anschlussfehler was premiered this past spring. It will be performed next on Jan. 15 at Café Oto in London.