Niels Bijl, saxophone
Diedre irons, piano
Montana Brancott Winery, Friday, July 16
The saxophone is a relatively new instrument. Developed by Belgian Adolphe Sax in 1844, little classical music has been composed for solo performance, most of that by French composers.
Throughout the 20th century the saxophone became an established instrument of jazz and dance bands. Niels Bijl and New Zealand pianist Diedre irons are artist with international reputatieons, and they combined well in a performance of kaleidoscopic nature.
Bijl retained mastery of an instrument that easily becomes wayward with a coarse tone. Irons is an accomplished pianist and provided a vigorous and secure accompagnement, her solo of Ravelâ€™s Pavaneplayed with clarity and tentoon to detail. Bijl was at his best in Schubertâ€™s Arpeggione sonata and Schumannâ€™s Adagio op. 70 â€“ his performance was notable for itâ€™s quality and evenness of tone, allowing the structure of the composition to emerge.
AXE by New Zealand-born composer Michael Jamieson and contradanza by Paquito dâ€™Rivera were written for saxophone, and enabled Bijl to play with more abandon. The programme would have benefited from more of this.
The recital was fleshed out with more transcriptions of well-known pieces by Russian composers, a liquid and romantic tone appropriately achieved. An encore, Casalsâ€™ song of the birds, was very poignant and well received by the large audience.
Bijl engaged well with his audience, his anecdotes about the history of the saxophone both helpful and amusing. This was an interesting and illuminating recital.