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Jüri Reinvere’s Saxophone Quartet “A-O” to be premiered at the Estonian Music Days 2020

The world premiere of Jüri Reinveres new saxophone quartet “A-O” was postponed from spring to autumn due to the coronavirus crisis and is now scheduled for 17 September 2020 as part of the Estonian Music Days 2020 in Tallinn. However, it will take place in the form of a video concert, to be broadcast from 7pm on 17 September. The festival took this decision on account of the coronavirus crisis, and also as the many Swedes who are highly interested in this festival are not allowed to enter Estonia without undergoing quarantine. The motto of the Estonian Music Days 2020 this year is “beauty in chaos”.
The Estonian composer wrote the piece for the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, one of the most renowned ensembles for new music in Northern Europe in Reinvere's opinion.
“"This is an inspiring opportunity for me to write chamber music again between several major stage and orchestral works and to work in more detailed small forms,” says the composer. “At the same time, it is a great honour to write for this quartet.”
The title of the saxophone quartet "A-O" is an abstract one, but it also refers to the Greek alpha and omega and to the most used vowels in many languages, as the composer points out.
The Stockholm Saxophone Quartet has premiered more than 700 works by Swedish and international composers and released many recordings.

For the festival Jüri Reinvere has written the following description of his work, which will also be printed in the second leading Estonian daily newspaper “Eesti Päevaleht” on the occasion of the premiere.

“My saxophone quartet ‘A-O’ was written at the beginning of 2020 for the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet. The title has a tonal and a spiritual meaning. A and O are two vowels that occur in all languages. In many European languages they stand for cries of astonishment, even joy. They are easy to sing. Through them the breath transports the sound. But A and O also stand for alpha and omega, for the beginning and end of the Greek alphabet. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is sometimes called the ‘A and O’. In the Christmas carol ‘In dulci jubilo’ about the child in the manger it says: 'alpha es et o'.
I had never written a saxophone quartet before, but I have already written three string quartets. The high status of writing for quartet in European music is founded on two things: the dense discourse between the four voices, i.e. a conversation between all four instruments on the level of linearity in the diachronic course of the piece, and then the presentation of the most complex harmonies possible in the restriction to four voices. Both are the be-all and end-all of good quartet writing, and both have occupied me in the saxophone quartet. At the same time, however, the idea that all our conversations, all our notions of harmony are only temporary, finally. We cannot anticipate perfection, and time blows away everything we create.
During the time when the quartet was being formed - it was a particularly beautiful, sunny, warm early spring - I photographed the clouds in the sky and the first flowers near our Frankfurt house, nothing but a jumble of structures of ephemeral beauty and random shapes. Gestalt is not chaos. Chaos is the opposite of form, the unformed, cybernetically speaking: the equal distribution of elements in space. Gestalt is unequal distribution, decision to belong together, separation of figure and background, definition of A and O. But form can rest in chaos, in the unformed. Michelangelo is said to have seen countless of his figures in one and the same stone. Every carving of the stone was associated with enormous melancholy: the limitation of the possible to the real. To see beauty in chaos is to look into the future, to trust in what cannot yet be seen.
But there is a longing in us to be able to look back into the world before its actual form. The philosopher George Steiner, who died in February, just as I was writing the quartet, said in an interview sixteen years ago: ‘When people tell me 'the God problem is nonsense’ or a ‘grammatical aberration’ of language, when Stephen Hawking tells me ‘the question of what comes before the Big Bang is a question that you cannot or must not ask’, then I know that it is arrogant nonsense. You can ask that question. We ask it. I have the right to say: ‘Why am I not allowed to know what was before the Big Bang? Augustine still has more to say to me about that than Mr Hawking. If I am told that we can no longer take the question of God seriously, then I believe we will no longer have the great forms of art in Europe either’.
And so, it is our task as artists to trace what was before the creation of the world and what will be after it, knowing that we ourselves are not the Alpha and Omega, but have a beginning and an end.”
(Jüri Reinvere, September 2020)

Video concert (              
UA Jüri Reinvere,                                       
Saxophone quartet “A-O”                                
(Stockholm Saxophone Quartet)                           
- Estonian Music Days -

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