May 13
Amstel’s sensitive dynamic control and energetic sense of ensemb

When one thinks of Yellow Springs, one thinks diversity. The 2004 Chamber Music Competition held May 2nd proved to live up to this village’s image.

This year CMYS also added an international element: one of the two finalists was the Amstel (river, beer…? yes) Quartet from Amsterdam. There are, however no strings attached to this group - the ensemble (formed in 1997) is made up entirely of saxophones. The other young, talented award-winning ensemble was the Calder Quartet from Los Angeles - a traditional fiddle variety (formed in 1998). The horns won the coin toss and stepped up to the near capacity crowd first.

This traditional saxophone ensemble (consisting of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones) shocked and awed the audience with a wide spectrum of sounds through a brave and adventurous program. Their performance commenced with a conventional saxophone quartet sound as realised by Frenchman Jean Rivier (1896 - 1987). His Grave et Presto (1938) drew mellow sonorities from their reeds followed by jazzy pickup rhythms and lightening-fast well-coordinated septuplet passagework. This opener immediately demonstrated Amstel’s sensitive dynamic control and energetic sense of ensemble.

The works to follow would educate the audience into this instrumentation’s true capacity. Compatriot Dutch composer Peter van Onna (b. 1966) challenged the ensemble with unconventional performance techniques in The Gravity of D (1991). Based around a recurring central ‘D’ pitch, the piece explores the sonic possibilities of these instruments through a variety of performance instructions: slap tongue, slap key, rhythmic blowing and hissing, growling, un-even vibrato, humming, staccato, trilling, asymmetric meter, and a final Rhapsody in Blue-style long glissando seamlessly stretched across all four instruments (that alone would be worth the price of admission). Sonic effects ranged from eerie wind and train sounds to warbling spacey homophony.

What occurred next was truly impressive: the foursome dispensed with their music stands, stood in a semi-circle and proceeded to sway and strut to the music from memory (and I thought memory performance practice was solely bestowed on post-Liszt generation pianists)! Modern American composer Michael Torke (b. 1960) provided the saxophone quartet repertoire with an aural depiction of its title, July (1995). Although influenced by minimalist styles, this composer gleans more atmosphere out of his score through utilising a variety of interesting arpeggiated harmonies. Amstel's handling of oscillating rapid sixteenth-note passages transcended them into an audible sensation of a light summer breeze.

As if to show what just transpired was not challenging enough, the Dutch ensemble proceeded to go completely avante guarde with their performance of Greek mathematician, architect, composer Iannis Xenakis' (1922- 2001) XAS (1987). This extremely challenging work attempts to send its listeners on a roundtrip from order to chaos and back. Chaos was indeed achieved through ear-shattering screeches, bi-directional forced air, fog-horn effects and the sonic cacophony found on busy Parisian streets. While this work may not have served as a guaranteed crowd pleaser (a mild din of disdain was audible during intermission), their final selection had a better chance. Samuel Barber's (1910 - 1981) famous Adagio for Strings (1936), proved to be aural therapy for the senses. This arrangement performed by the ensemble (again from memory) displayed their ability to blend perfect homophonic textures with soaring melodies...

The Calder Quartet batted last exhibiting a more traditional repertoire with confidence and extreme technical proficiency. They came out swinging hard with the Béla Bartòk (1881 - 1945) String Quartet No. 4 (1928). All recent graduates from USC, they displayed maturity far beyond their age. Right from the opening allegro, the group exuded youthful energy, tight ensemble and impeccable intonation. The Prestissimo, con sordino second movement demonstrated marvelous sonic blend through sul tasto (over the fingerboard) and glassy sul ponticello (near the bridge) bowing effects creating at times a distant beehive-like imagery.

Cincinnati native cellist Eric Byers may well be part Hungarian. His handling of the solos in the Non troppo lento (slow) third movement showed an insightful command of the parlando rubato (Slavic speech-like style). Bartòk's night music compositional technique also shined through beautifully here simulating sounds of nature within its delicate texture.

The Bartòk pizz (vertical snapping of the string) was just one of a variety of strumming tonal techniques demonstrated in the Allegretto pizzacato fourth movement. Depending on how close to the fingerboard or bridge they plucked, a warmer or brighter sound was created (even simulating a ukulele ensemble at one point). The final movement, Allegro molto, was appropriately gruff and jaunty. Permeated with Hungarian folk tunes, asymmetrical accents, col legno bowing (percussively tapping the wood of the bow on the strings) and driving rhythm, this young ensemble adeptly brought the competition into extra innings.

Ludwig van Beethoven's (1770 - 1827) String Quartet Opus 59, No. 3 (1806) is a standard “qualifier” in the string quartet repertoire and the Calder ensemble handled it with style and grace. Passionate dynamic contrasts in the opening and third movement were sandwiched with a hypnotic elegy-like slow movement. The true “tester” arrived with the fugal final movement, Allegro molto. They took this Italian tempo indication quite seriously bringing it home at a very fast clip. Articulation and clarity were not sacrificed however - each fugue entrance raced by cleanly, voiced to perfection.

So, how is a jury to rank two fine ensembles of such differing nature - strings vs. quasi brass (apples vs. oranges)? Ensemble, musicianship and interpretation are equalising underlying factors, of course, but there are physical limitations to what each instrument can do. How is this competition truly going to support up-and-coming young ensembles of a diverse nature if they lump them all together in one category (simply assigning a tag of First and Second)? Other national chamber music competitions (The Carmel and Coleman, both of which I am a prize recipient) assign specific names to prizes in order to take into consideration the nature of instrumentation (strings vs. mixed ensemble). If this were the case here, both groups, deservingly so, would go away feeling like winners with a designated prize (regardless of insignificant differing monetary awards).

Interest in this competition is clearly growing: these two ensembles were drawn from a pool of approximately 36 applications. Clearly the level is up, and the dividing lines of excellence will draw thinner.

Mostly due to repertoire selection (well-played, lesser known works tend to yield greater rewards in competition), the Amstel Quartet walked away with first place this time. Clearly both groups were “winners” and should be proud of their accomplishments. You can “read all about it” on their web sites: and!

Feb 03

Volle geoogste klanken uit rijke grond

Veerle Deknopper Cultuurpakt, 3 Februari 2022 Volle geoogste klanken uit rijke grond Het Amstel Quartet is een vernieuwend Amsterdams Saxofoon kwartet dat al 25 jaar lang zoekt naar het perfecte geluid. Die zoektocht bracht hen reeds naar alle uithoeken van de wereld. Op hun jongste album laten ze hun publiek kennismaken met het veelzijdige oeuvre van de Letse componist Georgs Pelécis. (...

Jan 31

Een ronduit aanstekelijk expressief en kleurrijk palet

Aart van der Wal OpusKlassiek, Januari 2022 Amstel Quartet presents Pelecis (…) Een illuster gezelschap dat, zo blijkt uit deze vertolkingen, een rotsvast vertrouwen in deze stukken uitstraalt en dat ze met groot engagement te lijf is gegaan. De in het Engels geschreven toelichting van de musicologe en muziekjournaliste Thea Derks (ze is o.a. de auteur van Een os op het dak) geeft voorts...

Jan 03

Fine refinement, much lyricism as well as vital rhythm

Remy Franck Pizzicato, 3 Januari 2022 Amstel Quartet plays Pelecis The Amstel Quartet plays music by Latvian composer Georgs Pelecis. With the exception of the Sunlight Sonata, with its melancholy movements Confession and Weeping, and the positively upbeat movements Consolation and Absolution, as well as the contemplative Christmas melodies, this is a light-hearted program that showcases Peleci...

May 21

Hoe authentiek willen we het hebben?

Hans Heg Klassieke Zaken 21 mei 2021 Hoe ‘authentiek’ willen we het hebben? (…) Adolphe Sax zorgde voor een opmerkelijk nieuw geluid. We kunnen niet meer zonder die specifieke klank van ‘zijn’ saxen. Maar wacht even. Jullie gaan er toch prat op dat er in Nederland meer saxofoonkwartetten zijn dan waar ook? Klopt. Toch heeft niemand zich kennelijk gerealiseerd dat...

Feb 01

10 out of 10 - Review American Dream

LUISTER 753, FEB 2021 American DreamAmstel QuartetAR018 DDD-74'Waardering: 10Het Amstel Quartet begon zijn activiteiten in 1997 en nam zijn eerste cd op in 2002. Ties Mellema maakte op baritonsaxofoon bijna twintig jaar met zijn makkers vol, maar moest in 2015 wegens ziekte stoppen. In die periode maakte het kwartet maar liefst tien cd's. Nu, na een hiaat van vijf jaar, komt het Amstel met een ni...

Nov 19

Review American Dream

de Volkskrant 19 november 2020 Albumrecensie American Dream Met swingende jazzritmes en uit elkaar waaierende melodieën toont het Amstel Quartet zijn reikwijdte ★★★★☆ Maartje StokkersOm de spanning van de verkiezingsdag in de Verenigde Staten te verzachten, kwamen de leden van het Amstel Quartet die dag met hun nieuwste album: American Dream. Het is hun antwoord op de vraag: wat...

Sep 17

Amstel Quartet inspires listeners twice in Monastery hall (German)

Hannoversche Allgemeine ZeitungDonnerstag, 1 7. September 2020 WennigsenKulturkreis feiert Auftakt mit EinschränkungenAmstel Quartet begeistert Zuhörer gleich zweimal im Klostersaal / Publikum in Gruppen eingeteiltVon Dietmar Grünreich"Die Saxofonisten aus den Niederlanden überzeugten das Publikum mit ihrem Zusammenspiel."Wennigsen. Für das erste Konzert in der Corona-Sais...

Nov 11

Maxim Shalygin laat acht saxofoons bruut branden

11 nov. 2019 Brabants Dagblad - René van Peer November Music 2019 Maxim Shalygin laat acht saxofoons bruut branden (...) Verpletterend. Adembenemend. Het is niet moeilijk om het meest indrukwekkende concert in November Music aan te wijzen. Dat was het vurige "Todos los Fuegos el Fuego" van Maxim Shalygin, geschreven voor acht saxofoons. (Keuris en Amstel Quartet, red.) Gehuld in het zw...

Jun 30

Vurige saxofoons - Dag in de Branding

(...) Vurige saxofoons Neem de Oekraïense componist Maxim Shalygin, die voor zijn premièrewerk Todos los fuegos el fuego inspiratie putte uit het gelijknamige boek van de Argentijnse schrijver Julio Cortázar. Op voorhand kon je je afvragen of het niet wat veel van het goede was, een stuk van anderhalf uur (zeg een Mahler-symfonie) voor dubbel saxofoonkwartet. Een zelf diriger...

Sep 04

Cinema Paradiso at the Mainzer Musiksommer

Das Quartett verblüfft das Publikum durch ein Wandelkonzert im Kreuzgang mit Stationen in den Diagonalen und den gegenüberliegenden Sichtbögen. Die Veränderung des Klangbilds in fünf Etappen gestaltet sich atemberaubend. Das Kreisen um ein harmonisches Zentrum erscheint dabei wie der Motor eines zügig Fahrt aufnehmenden Perpetuum Mobiles. Akkordschichtungen wechseln m...

Feb 14

Amstel Quartet thrills with "Classical Zen"

Saxophone times four Amstel Quartet thrills with “Classical Zen”   Dietrich Buxtehude’s “Te Deum Laudamus” and Thomas Tallis’ Felix Namque reach new sound dimensions that transcend virtuosity - four souls melting into one , diversity becomes unity, unity becomes diversity...Classical Zen was an adventure in sound that took the audience on a long journey....

Jan 26

Review of our concert

Eine Klangreise durch Zeit und Raum. Amstel Quartet begeistert mit musikalischer Perfektion und außergewöhnlichem Programm. Das Amstel Quartet schaffte es mit enormer musikalischer Brillanz, ihre Zuhörer zu fesseln und tatsächlich eine weiten Bogen über fünf Jahrhunderte zu spannen, ohne dass irgendwann der Begriff "Kontrast" eine Rolle spielte. Ein wenig fühlte...

Oct 11

Die Rheinlandpfalz about our concert in Landau on September 28th

Paul Creston’s Prélude und Rondo wirkten keineswegs antiquiert, so leicht und locker, wie sie das Quartett klingen ließ. Grundlage der entspannt wirkenden, lebhaft und temporeich musizierten Wiedergabe waren die Konzentration und die technische Perfektion der Musiker. Paul Creston's Prélude and Rondo didn't sound dated at all; the Amstel Quartet made it sound flawless an...

Jul 24

Wagners Ring in 20 Minuten - genial

Münster - Wer den Versuch unternimmt, die Essenz des Wagnerschen Rings in 20 Minuten wiederzugeben, ist entweder total verrückt - oder aber schlichtweg genial. Münster - if you dare to capture the essence of Wagner's Ring in 20 minutes you are either completely crazy, or just genius. Stefan Herkenrath, Westfälische Nachrichten, 24. Juli 2016 Read the full review here....

Jul 22

Balm for the soul ... La vie en rose even is a revelation

Dit saxofoonkwartet is balsem voor de ziel  Piafs "La Vie en Rose" is een openbaring. De arrangementen en Elans klassieke voordracht vormen een gelukkig huwelijk. Zo flauw als die comedy serie 'Allo 'Allo! kon zijn, met zijn melige woordspelingen, zo gracieus is de herkenningstune - mits gespeeld door het Amstel Quartet. Wie denkt dat het instrument, geassocieerd met die robuuste, ietwat p...

Nov 03

A real Caribbean feast for the ears!

With Pascal Schumacher's Amstel-Coconut-Blue the foursome stole the hearts of both the Caribbean and non-Caribbean public! Patricia Bergwijn, Bonaire, Antilliaans Dagblad De op Caribische muziek geïnspireerde en op Bonaire voor het eerst gespeelde wereldprimeur “Amstel-Coconut-Blue” van het Amstel Quartet werd speciaal gecomponeerd door Pascal Schumacher vanwege het feit dat het...

Jun 30

5 out of 5 stars for Sax avec Elan! in Elsevier!

A mosaic of feelings awakens while listening to this CD. That's not only due to Elan's voice, but also to the emotional sound spectrum of the saxophones. Read the full review here.  ...

Jun 25

Sax avec Elan! Album of the Week on SinfiniMusic!

It works miraculously well: the combination of chansonnier Philippe Elan and the Amstel Quartet.The saxophones merge effortlessly into the drama of the chansons. Read the full feature here!  ...

Mar 18

En Route review Sax & Elan

En Route Over het Amstel Quartet: "Het is al een genot om alléén daarnaar te luisteren." ...

Mar 03

Review 'Sax Avec Elan' op

"Elan sings these songs with such a wonderful charm: an easy evidence why these chansons became classics." Sax Avec Elan!’ is the name of the new CD by the French singer Philippe Elan, recorded with the Amstel Quartet. From the ’80′s he lives in Amsterdam and since then he recorded ten albums, gave many concerts and made theater tours. Today he’s accompanied by Reyer Zwart...

Feb 02

Recensie 'Sax avec Elan' in Trouw

Recensie in Trouw over 'Sax avec Elan' Vier saxen en een chansonnier interview | De Frans-Nederlandse zanger Philippe Elan kreeg als kind een hekel aan de saxofoon. Nu wordt hij op de cd 'Sax avec Elan' begeleid door vier saxofoons van het Amstel Quartet. PETER VAN DER LINT De al lang in Nederland wonende chansonnier Philippe Elan speelde ooit saxofoon. Toen hij nog in Gascogne in Frankrijk woon...

Jan 22

Recensie Klassiek Zaken 'Sax Avec Elan'

Klassieke zaken – januari 2015 Sax avec Elan! Philippe Elan & Amstel Quartet   Muzikale grenzen lijken niet te bestaan voor het Amstel Quartet. In elk geval weten de vier saxofonisten ze keer op keer te overschrijden, met vaak bijzondere programma’s en cd’s als klinkend eindresultaat. Ook nu is dat weer het geval, want het Amstel Quartet ging een samenwerking aan ...

Jan 20

Recensie NRC 'Sax avec Elan'

Saxy chansons vol levenslust Er spreekt veel vóór de combinatie saxofoons met chanson. Je waant je meteen in vaudevillesfeer. Daarbij lijken de saxofoonvirtuozen van het Amstel Quartet (o.a. Ties Mellema) zich in elk idioom thuis te voelen, zeker ook bij het wufte elan van de al decennia in Nederland gevestigde chansonnier Philippe Elan. Die maakte talrijke gevarieerde chanson-cdâ€...

Jan 19

Recensie Telegraaf 'Sax avec Elan'

Telegraaf 17 januari, vier sterren voor Sax avec Elan SUBTIEL EN INGETOGEN Philippe Elan & Amstel Quartet – Sax avec Elan! Zijn opa speelde saxofoon, maar Philippe Elan werd zanger. In Nederland. Met zijn nieuwe cd, Sax avec Elan!, die de weerslag is van een succesvol theaterprogramma, is de cirkel rond. Samen met het uiterst subtiele Amstel Quartet, vier saxofonisten, doe...

Sep 13

Review Gaudeamus concert[s]

. . . hoge pieptonen . . .  review in dutch     ...

Jan 21

Mit dem Saxophon unterwegs in ungewohnte Klangwelten

Great review of our concert in Herdecke, 19th of January 2014. by Renate Schmoll / Der Westen.     ...

Nov 20

Elan & Sax

DE TELEGRAAF woensdag 20 november 2013 Zijn opa speelde saxofoon en daarom was het de bedoeling dat hij er zelf ook mee aan de slag zou gaan. Maar Philippe Elan wilde zingen - en doet dat nog steeds. Maar het leven ontvouwt zich op zijn eigen manier en nu staat hij op de planken met een saxofoonkwartet in Sax met Elan. En dat kwartet is fantastisch: het Amstel Quartet achter Elan. So...

Nov 06

Concert at Sarnia Concert Association, Canada

Amstel Quartet Review by David Nichols On his 199th birthday, Adolphe Sax would have been beaming like a glittering saxophone if he could have heard the Canadian premier of the Amstel Quartet. The Belgian instrument maker invented the saxophone in 1846. The instrumental concept was to create an instrument with the volume of a brass instrument and the flexibility of a woodwind instrument....

Oct 06

Amstel Tracks NOW! review

  WRUV Reviews The sound that they create from four instruments — a soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone — is far greater than the sum of its parts.   Read the full review here:     ...

Jun 08

recensie: ZWART LICHT.. . Leeroy draait door

ZWART LICHT.. . Leeroy draait door 'Hooptie Music' is een van de uitblinkers op het album vanwege de bijdrage van het Amstel Quartet. De muziek klinkt voller en komt beter uit de verf dan als die bijdragen met de computer waren ingespeeld. Het inschakelen van het Amstel Quartet was een idee van Akwasi.

May 11

gecertificeerde zuurstofflessen - certified oxygen cylinders

  za 05 mei 2012   Saxen in een glansrol Amstel Quartet - Amstel Tracks Now!   door Thiemo Wind   Wat mooier klinkt dan één saxofoon? Vier saxofoons. Tenminste, als ze zo knap worden bespeeld als door de blazers van het Amstel Quartet. Deze cd biedt een breed gesorteerde staalkaart van hun kunnen. Het betreft arrangementen – Bach, Swe...

Mar 23

Alles ist Saxophon

review in (in German)       ...

Mar 19

review Amstel Tracks NOW! in Opus Klassiek

lees de volledige recensie op:     "Prachtige instrumenten, schitterend bespeeld en beeldend opgenomen."   © Aart van der Wal, maart 2012 ...

Mar 13

review Amstel Tracks NOW! in Mania

read in Dutch [good luck!!]   ...

Feb 15

LUXEMBURGER WORT - Une mosaïque musicale étincelante

Luxemburger Wort - Une mosaïque musicale étincelante. about the Amstel Tracks Now! concert @ the Philharmonie, Luxemburg 8-2-2012:   “It’s such an undescribable pleasure to listen to these four musicians: an borderless musical horizon and a generous liberty of expression”.   “Going from Renaissance to New Music, they create a new world in...

Jan 30

"Amstel Quartet: The best saxophone quartet in the world." (AVRO Radio)

By Roland Kieft: (Dutch) "Amstel Quartet: The best saxophone quartet in the world." "A fantastic saxophone quartet" "But that a saxophone quartet also can sound like an amazing organ can be heard in a Choral by Bach: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland." "Some say: 'Is nothing holy to them?', but it is the other way around: Ever...

Apr 06

Met vier saxen naar Hengelo (O)?

De Twentsche Courant Tubantia, woensdag 6 april 2011-04-06 Met vier saxen naar Hengelo (O)? Drie keer per jaar doet het Amstel Quartet een tour door Amerika. Maar met het saxofoonkwartet in zijn geboorteplaats spelen, dat is Remco Jak (35) nooit gelukt. Door Ton Ouwehand Met één saxofoon vanuit zijn huidige woonplaats Abcoude terug naar Hengelo, dat lukt nog wel eens. Alt...

Mar 30

CD review Amstel Raga (in German) Pizzicato

Pizzicato - 4 / 2011 Sliepen & Co. in India The Amstel Quartet never repeats itself and now releases yet another exciting CD together with tabla player Niti Ranjan-Biswas. A meeting of two worlds that merge surprisingly well and lead to true sound synergies. In this program - that also consists of solo interludes by Niti Ranjan-Biswas - one never has the impression of artificia...

Mar 28

CD review Amstel Raga (in German)

CD review Amstel Raga (German) in ENSEMBLE Magazin für Kammermusik [april/may 2011]   Ensemble - Magazin für Kammermusik (April / Mai 2011) The Amstel Quartet’s new CD is definitely the biggest surprise here ! With “Amstel Raga” this dutch saxophone quartet has embraced Indian traditional music. Obviously the sound of a ...

Mar 16

CD review Amstel Raga (Dutch with translation)

CD KLASSIEK Amstel Quartet en Niti Ranjan Biswas De knalroze-oranje hoes van Amstel Raga is er eentje in echte Bollywoodstijl: de vier saxofonisten van het Amstel Quartet zitten om tabla-speler Niti Ranjan Biswas heen, twee wierokende olifanten aan de zijkant,iedereen een gouden aureool omzijn hoofd. Amstel Quartet bouwde het afgelopen decennium internationaal een naam op als topens...

Feb 27

CD review Amstel Raga (Dutch)

  Muziekwereld nummer 1 – 2011 door rakenDra Smit   AMSTEL QUARTET feat. NITI RANJAN BISWAS Amstel Raga, Amstel Records AR 008   Op dit album speelt het Amstel Quartet met tablavirtuoos Niti Ranjan Biswas een programma met werken speciaal geschreven voor saxofoonkwartet en tabla. Ze vertolken composities van onder andere de Indiase saxofon...

Nov 29

Amstel Peijl Review

  ........ The one disc that I found outstanding in every regard comes from the Amstel Saxophone Quartet. A CD titled “Amstel Peijl” which I fell in love with. My intuitive notion of a saxophone quartet is that of a rather modern invention, perhaps even a recent fad. The saxophone is a fairly recent instrument of course, but at 160 years it is young only when compared to ...

Aug 16

Review Amstel Peijl album

PAUL WAGNER reviewed the Amstel Peijl album in the Juli-August issue of Saxophone Journal     AMSTEL PEIJL Amstel  Quartet AR006 Amstel Records The Amstel Quartet consists of Remco Jak on soprano; Olivier Sliepen on alto; Bas Apswoude on tenor, and Ties Mellema on baritone. The...

Apr 14

review in FanfareMag

Read the full article here .. . . . .. .  From just looking at it, I wasn’t sure about the commercial viability for the Amstel Quartet’s CD Amstel Peijl either, but after the first few minutes of what would become more than a dozen listens, I knew I loved it. My intuitive notion of a saxophone quartet is that of a rather modern invention, perhaps even a rece...

Mar 31

Review Amstel Peijl CD

Read the review here ...

Jul 20

Paradox Cliché

While I was in the Catskills earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending a concert given by the Amstel Quartet. These guys are unique and amazing! Their timing is impeccable. The approximately 1 hour concert consisted of their arrangements of classical music compositions by Bach, Franck, Mozart, Phillip Glass and others. Their piece by César Franck was so beautiful it moved ...

Nov 10

Party im "Römerbad"

Party im "Römerbad" Die einstigen Römerbad-Musiktage in Badenweiler haben einen neuen Namen: Römerbad-Musikzeit. Eröffnet wurde das diesjährige Herbstprojekt jetzt mit einem Konzert des Amstel-Saxofonquartetts. So viel Jugendlichkeit war selten im ehrwürdigen Hotel Römerbad. Am Ende ihres großartigen Konzerts, als die vier jungen Saxofonisten des Amstel-Quartetts eine...

Mar 21

This is how a saxophone quartet should sounds like

About the fourth movement of the saxophone quartet by Philip Glass: In the final movement of this saxophone quartet by Philip Glass the men of the Amstel Quartet show their most clear and shining tone colours. As one might expect from Glass, repetition is always present. The musical patterns seem to interchange fluently. Although the rhythm moves in constantly changing meters, there still p...

Feb 09

one Brain

Dublin Concert Review February 9, 2008 Amstel Quartet Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin ................................................ MICHAEL DUNGAN Sweelinck (arr. Apswoude) - Chromatic Fantasy Ian Wilson – Ghosts Glazunov - Quartet Op 109 The four saxophonists of the 10-year-old Amstel Quartet are cool-looking young fellows, chicly attired in the one-time unthinkable combination...

Oct 31

CD Feature/ Amstel Quartet: "Amstel Peijl"

CD Feature/ Amstel Quartet: "Amstel Peijl" Puts things into perspective: A private quest of musical genealogy. Christopher Nolan’s “Memento” wasn’t only a surprising and suspenseful thriller in the “film noir” tradition, it was also an intruiging investigation into the question of whether there is a future for someone without a past. The same issue, if onl...

Aug 21

Who needs violins, harpischords, organs, and pianos? [MUSIC REVIEW] Amstel Quartet, The Clark 8.8.07 THE CLARK The Amstel Quartet August 7, 2007 Remco Jak, soprano saxophone Olivier Sliepen, alto saxophone Bas Apswoude, tenor saxophone Ties Mellema, baritone saxophone review by SETH ROGOVOY, editor-in-chief and critic-at-large, BERKSHIRE LIVING Magazine (WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., August ...

Dec 31

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

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 lin...

Oct 31

When the Star Reaches Out for You - Baltica - Supersonic Award

This CD confronts its audience with difficult music. Difficult to play, difficult to listen to. Concerning the interpretation, the four musicians of the Amstel Quartet (including Luxembourger Olivier Sliepen) totally master this aspect of difficulty. Concerning the listener, one has to clarify his spirit, leave normality behind and be prepared for unusual encounters, for sounds that seem to reflec...

May 21

Incredibly beautifully played Prélude, Fugue et Variation

In April the Amstel Quartet won the second prize at the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition. Amstel Tracks is the second CD of this ensemble, and the first release of their new label Amstel Records. Recently the Amstel Quartet released a recording with works by Baltic composers, but on Amstel Tracks they chose for less obvious works. This diverse CD contains works of Beethoven, Franck, Nyman and...

Oct 09

Recommended Recordings - Straight Lines - Amstel Quartet

Not too long ago, who would have ever expected the saxophone quartet to become such a vital medium of musical expression for players, as well as composers. It seems that there is a new saxophone quartet being formed every day, and new saxophone quartet music is being created equally fast. This is an amazing rate of growth and interest. These are exciting times for the saxophone quartet medium whos...

Aug 31

In Total Admiration of the Amstel Quartet - Amstel Tracks - Excellentia Award

Sunday evening, 4th of July 2004. I’ve been listening to seven CD recordings today and have reviewed them. Some were all right, but there was nothing that struck my ear. This should be the last CD on my list for tonight. I put it in my CD player with some expectations, as Luxembourg saxophonist Olivier Sliepen, who I highly appreciate, forms part of this quartet which recently won a chambe...

May 13

Amstel’s sensitive dynamic control and energetic sense of ensemb

When one thinks of Yellow Springs, one thinks diversity. The 2004 Chamber Music Competition held May 2nd proved to live up to this village’s image. This year CMYS also added an international element: one of the two finalists was the Amstel (river, beer…? yes) Quartet from Amsterdam. There are, however no strings attached to this group - the ensemble (formed in 1997) is made up ent...


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