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ASQ, the Brand! - 1 Gram of Time - Supersonic Award

Dec 31

The new CD of this quartet is overloaded with gems. Including Luxembourger Olivier Sliepen, it starts like in a birdcage: the flattering quartet of Tristan Keuris (1946 – 1996) introducing the program, and also Luxembourg composer Camille Kerger is part of it with his composition Schneelicht – bebend weiss – a work that uses the lyricism of the saxophone with long, singing lines, as well as staccato possibilities. The work, inspired by a poem by Nico Helminger, is visual with intensifying and decreasing movements of snow and mostly high sounds that evoke empty landscapes, in which the snow plays with the agitated, exaggerated light. Flowing light and ostinato – light movements also form the core element of Merlijn Twaalfhoven’s entertaining composition 1 Gram of Time.

By far more complex, is the procedure of Hugues Dufourt who explores the sound spectrum of the saxophone in a refined game of sound colors. This refined and sacred world is radically disrupted by Iannis Xenakis. It’s an eight-minute scream with shrill, penetrating sounds that frighten ear and soul. After so much hopelessness we enter the wonderfully sensitive moods of Dutch composer Marijn Simons. The work inspired by Miro’s painting of the same title first confronts us with the mellow background of the painting before transforming the gentle rhythms of its figures, whose movements are tamed by a caring sun, into sound. ...

Franco Donatoni’ s piece Rasch, dedicated to the Rascher Quartet, represents the breathless rush of our time and seems to literally fall into water, washed away by Ian Wilson’s Atlantica. Here the gram of time forms part of the infinity of oceans and lost times that Wilson imagines as endless and magnificent.

Those contrasts, those wonderful transitions, are the main characteristics of this CD and prove the knowledge of repertoire and intelligent sensibility of how the four musicians of the Amstel Quartet selected the programme of this CD.

After the previous CDs that left us with the greatest enthusiasm, the Amstel Quartet presents its masterpiece with this recording. Totally detached from the score, deeply feeling the music itself, the four musicians present a program here that’s of a quality, both in terms of compositions and interpretation, beyond discussion. This is the case in a dark Xenakis composition, as well as in the trembling opus of Camille Kerger: the four saxophonists amaze with sheer endless technical abilities, a grandiose musical imagination and a performance that’s always highly expressive. What ABQ is in the world of strings, Amstel Quartet could become in the world of the saxophone.