Niels Bijl
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An Absolutely Fantastic Concert

Wieringer Courant, January 30th, 2008


Wieringer Courant, 30 January 2008

The audience of more than one hundred people arrived, for a large part, curiously expectant. Perhaps with the feeling, “How can a tenor saxophone hold my attention for a whole concert?” But practically everyone left wildly enthusiastic. Here was proof how good this member of the woodwind family, only invented in 1842, can sound, provided that it is played by a true musician. In addition to this the program was so well put together that it was already interesting.

The musicians began with a few melodious, almost dreamy pieces, one from the French composer Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) and Romance from the English composer Ronald Binge (1910-1979) arranged by Hans van der Heide, played with a wonderful dark and beautiful tone with masterly accompaniment. This was followed by a Sonata from Domenico Scarlatti for solo piano and a piece originally composed for trombone and piano, Ballade from the Swiss Frank Martin (1890-1974) who spent much of his life in the Netherlands. The climax was the “Three Etudes” for saxophone and piano written by Hans van der Heide in 2007. Also a world premiere. The word etude has to be seen as separate from the idea of a practice piece. The same applies as for those of Chopin for piano. This music can only be played by someone who does not need etudes any more. All possibilities of the tenor saxophone were displayed. This remained, due to the enormous virtuosity, continually gripping. This is simply standard repertoire. Breathtakingly beautiful music superbly executed.

There followed a number of pieces originally composed for this combination: “Evening Song” by the Russian Dmitri Smirnov (1948) and “Grizzly” by Guillermo Lago. The concert ended with an arrangement of Part 2 from a Sonata by Poulence (by Hans van de Heide) and of “Adagio und Allegro” by Robert Schumann (voor French Horm and piano, arranged by Niels Bijl).

Alongside the etudes, these arrangements were also world premieres, which involves much study for the performers and is extremely exciting. But when musicians such as these two lead the way, with true passion, something exceptional happens. It was an absolutely fantastic concert. (Henk Pruijsen)