Xenakis - Xas

Xenakis wrote Xas in 1987 for the Rascher Saxophone Quartet. He had been reluctant to write for saxophone and this quartet represents the sole writing for the instrument in all his output. The intensity of this piece can be found not only in the immediately apparent extreme instrumental range, but also in the density of harmonic configurations, which employ subtle quarter tone and timbral colourations to construct some vicious and cadaverous moods.Although mostly didactic in its demands, the piece has several passages of rhythmic autonomy, where players place their notes in a less systematic manner in the context of a general pulse. These particular passages help give the work an expansive sonority and act as an ingenious foil to the rhythmic dissonance and atonal canons that follow.