Ligeti for saxophone quartet is properly exhilarating

17 July 2017, 16:21

By Amy MacKenzie

Their performance of Ligeti's 'Six Bagatelles' is both thrilling and delicately beautiful.

When György Ligeti's Six Bagatelles was first premiered in 1956, thepowers that be in the Soviet Union did not allow the final movement to be performed because it was considered to be 'too dangerous'. But that hasn't stopped the Xenon Quartet creating this precarious performance in the roof of an edgy-looking abandoned building, complete with some smokey effects. 

The name of the ensemble is derived from the very rare monatomic noble gas Xenon. The four saxophonists, Lukas, Anže, Adrian and Benjamin aim to present their passion for music to their audience in a dynamic, innovative and modern way – just as special as this precious Xenon gas is for technology and science. You can listen to the full twelve exhilarating minutes of the Six Bagatelles performed by Xenon Quartet here. 

Ligeti's Six Bagatelles is an arrangement of his earlier Musica ricercata, a work which begins with only one note in the first movement, and gradually adds in another tone, building up to the full twelve tones by the final movement. Listen to this movement, which only has one note in it (or does it?) but is still absolutely thrilling.