[MUSIC REVIEW] Amstel Quartet, 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 8, 2007) -- Who needs violins, harpischords, organs, and pianos?
For that matter, who needs a symphony orchestra?
For one night at least, that's the sensation a listener took away after being bathed in the vibrant colors and gorgeous textures of the Amsterdam-based Amstel Quartet, in a concert at The Clark.
In an artfully programmed concert that had built-in structure and symmetry among six numbers spanning the early-seventeenth to late-twentieth centuries, the quartet jumped from works by JS Bach to Philip Glass, from the Russian Alexander Glazunov to the Dutch Merlign Twaalfhoven.
The concert began with a twelve-year-old piece by American composer Michael Torke called July, a fitting choice as it emanated from the school of minimalism (and the concert program ended officially with Philip Glass's Concerto for Saxophone Quartet, written the same year) but also incorporated some lovely lyricism.
Jan P. Sweelinck's Chromatic Fantasy was a transcription of the seventeenth century Dutch composer's exercise for harpsichord. As its name implies, it relied on the simple beauty of chromatic scales and interlocking counterpoint, and the quartet was at its best in this sort of playing, where the four parts became greater than their unitary sum.
The second half of the concert opened with Gram of Time, a short piece by contemporary Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven, which seemed to come from the school of Ligeti in its abstract spontaneity and unscaled music of the spheres. It was a work of incredibly surprise and beauty, with notes and patterns emerging from nowhere and disappearing as quickly. It was as much about sound and resonance as what we normally think of as linear music, in its short run really creating its own sound universe.
The transciption of JS Bach's Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, originally written for organ or piano, was related to the earlier Chromatic Fantasy, and once again made one think why bother with a keyboard when four saxophones can shimmer with such profoundly resonant and spiritual sound, especially these four saxophones played by the young quartet of musicians who are seemingly psychically attached to each other.
The Philip Glass concerto that closed the evening was exciting, but the unlisted encore, Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, was even more brilliant, as it drove home the point that a string quartet has nothing on a saxophone quartet, that the saxophone quartet has an equal or greater variety of tones, that it can shimmer with vibrato, create new colors out of blends, and be so ever more dynamic.
In the end, the Amstel Quartet's concert at The Clark was one of the highlights of the 2007 summer cultural season.
Hoe authentiek willen we het hebben?
10 out of 10 - Review American Dream
Review American Dream
Amstel Quartet inspires listeners twice in Monastery hall (German)
Maxim Shalygin laat acht saxofoons bruut branden
Vurige saxofoons - Dag in de Branding
Cinema Paradiso at the Mainzer Musiksommer
Amstel Quartet thrills with "Classical Zen"
Review of our concert
Die Rheinlandpfalz about our concert in Landau on September 28th
Wagners Ring in 20 Minuten - genial
Balm for the soul ... La vie en rose even is a revelation
A real Caribbean feast for the ears!
5 out of 5 stars for Sax avec Elan! in Elsevier!
Sax avec Elan! Album of the Week on SinfiniMusic!
En Route review Sax & Elan
Review 'Sax Avec Elan' op Musicframes.nl
Recensie 'Sax avec Elan' in Trouw
Recensie Klassiek Zaken 'Sax Avec Elan'
Recensie NRC 'Sax avec Elan'
Recensie Telegraaf 'Sax avec Elan'
Review Gaudeamus concert[s]
Mit dem Saxophon unterwegs in ungewohnte Klangwelten
Elan & Sax
Concert at Sarnia Concert Association, Canada
Amstel Tracks NOW! review
recensie: ZWART LICHT.. . Leeroy draait door
gecertificeerde zuurstofflessen - certified oxygen cylinders
Alles ist Saxophon
review Amstel Tracks NOW! in Opus Klassiek
review Amstel Tracks NOW! in Mania
LUXEMBURGER WORT - Une mosaÃ¯que musicale Ã©tincelante
"Amstel Quartet: The best saxophone quartet in the world." (AVRO Radio)
Met vier saxen naar Hengelo (O)?
CD review Amstel Raga (in German) Pizzicato
CD review Amstel Raga (in German)
CD review Amstel Raga (Dutch with translation)
CD review Amstel Raga (Dutch)
Amstel Peijl Review
Review Amstel Peijl album
review in FanfareMag
Review Amstel Peijl CD
Party im "RÃ¶merbad"
This is how a saxophone quartet should sounds like
CD Feature/ Amstel Quartet: "Amstel Peijl"
Who needs violins, harpischords, organs, and pianos?
ASQ, the Brand! - 1 Gram of Time - Supersonic Award
When the Star Reaches Out for You - Baltica - Supersonic Award
Incredibly beautifully played PrÃ©lude, Fugue et Variation
Recommended Recordings - Straight Lines - Amstel Quartet
In Total Admiration of the Amstel Quartet - Amstel Tracks - Excellentia Award
Amstelâ€™s sensitive dynamic control and energetic sense of ensemb