Fo[u]r Alto is the quadruplication of the Alto Saxophone into a unified body of sound. Since the formation of the ensemble in 2008 the four Berlin saxophonists Frank Gratkowski, Christian Weidner and Florian Bergmann have developed a unique sound speech.
Collective improvisations are combined with compositions of Gratkowski, who employs different compositional techniques. Some of these are based on principles found in electronic music but are applied here in a strictly acoustic way. Other techniques include harmonies and melodies which are generated from analysis of Tam-Tams and speech patterns and then transformed. The compositions also make use of intervallistic concepts, various extended techniques on the saxophone and dense, shimmering sheets of sound, which are created by layers of multiphonics specific to the Alto Saxophone.
Fo[u]r Alto played numerous concerts in Germany, Austria, Greece and the Netherlands.
In Autumn 2012 the english Label LeoRec released their first CD “4 Compositions by Frank Gratkowski”.
"The four alto saxophonists Christian Weidner, Frank Gratkowski, Benjamin Weidekamp and Florian Bergmann combine refinement with intensive body experience. (...) Nature and machine were described by fanfare sounds and overtone structures, storm compositions whipped through the room and a gong was finally felt in an off-tuned context."
"For most of the listeners this was a new experience that was beyond our usual listening habits. (...) Later the four saxophonists separated in a darkened room and played a sound installation. It was an impressive end to a highly interesting evening."
"Gratkowski had studied intensively the vibrational patterns and acoustics of tam tams so that the long, almost never ending tones of the quartet reminded one more of an electronic experiment than four woodwinds. (...) Like this textures were formed that seemed almost tangible in the full concert hall."
"Four alto saxophones scan the world of their sounds for unknown depths, elevations and gaps. Fine microtones and multiphonics filled with friction create a soundsphere that is not infrequently reminiscent of the texture of electronic music. Their concentration on the moment and on the nuanced structure of the pieces affords a rare insight into the microscopically fine texture of sound."
A marvellous sounding together like a melodic consonant Niblock in some ways A buzzing of sounds, consonant, close moving parts, unison but not. Now, complex heterophony, good, choruses really. Strangeness of close harmony. Cadence, almost, strange, melancholy, but very centred, good. A constant band of changing beatings, in an almost lyrical fashion. Like a melodic Tenney, very good indeed. Accents, stresses, to central kind of pitch.
Recorded on April 4th and 5th 2011 by Walter Quintus.
Mixed and masteres by WAlter Quintus.
All compositions by Frank Gratkowski (GEMA)
Special thanks to Reinhard, Gabriele and Hayden.
Cover art by Gabriele D.R. Guenther
“Questions & Answers” (detail)
mixed media/ found objects on canvas on wood – 160 x 61 cm
Artwork photography by Achim Kaufmann
Foto by Gehe 8, Frontcover design by Manon Kahle
1 TamTam 4a – 15:20
2 Molto Fluttuante – 11:38
3 Likewise – 4:37
4 Sound 1 – 31:10