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Renaissance: Berliner Saxophone Quartet

Palestrina / Isaak / Berliner Saxophone Quartet
Release Date: 03/29/2011 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777581-2   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giovanni PalestrinaTylman SusatoSamuel ScheidtGirolamo Frescobaldi,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A sense of adventure and fun.

Saxophone quartets have come a long way since the pioneering ensembles of Eduard Lefebre (1834-1911) and Marcel Mule (1901-2001). As there was no repertoire for the latter’s Quatuor de la Garde Républicaine, formed in 1927, the group had to rely on Mule’s own transcriptions of popular classical pieces. Even now there isn’t a vast amount of material written specifically for such bands, but those by Zdenek LukáŠ, Philip Glass and Barbara Thompson are well worth investigating; you can hear these works – and others – played by that fine foursome, the Tetraphonics.

The Berlin Saxophone Quartet have gone back to Mule’s time with their ‘in-house’ transcriptions of
Read more Bach’s Kunst der Fuge (CPO 999 058-2) and now with music of the 15 th and 16 th centuries. As band member and composer Friedemann Graef points out in his booklet essay, ‘Old Music with New Instruments’, the Renaissance period is a good place to look for suitable material, as most pieces would not have been written for specific instruments or ensembles. It’s certainly an eclectic mix, including many songs, but how does it sound?

Superb, is the short answer. >From the delicate interplay of the first Ricercar by Palestrina it’s clear these are very sophisticated musicians who sound remarkably ‘authentic’ in matters of style and instrumental blend. Isaak’s song Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen (Innsbuck, I must leave thee) is a case in point; the distribution of voices is most sensitively done, the effect both plaintive and poignant. It’s made all the more affecting by a warm, detailed and well-balanced recording that adds a burnished glow to these instruments. What gravitas these players bring to Isaak’s Fammi una gratia, and what deftness of rhythm and articulation to Susato’s three Allemandes and stately Pavane.

Inevitably, collections such as this stand or fall by their programme; I’m pleased to say the pieces have been well chosen for their variety of mood and rhythm. Hence the light, bright cornet sound so well mimicked in Scheidt’s Canzon cornetto is a perfect foil for the Pavane just past and the plangent Ricercar la-fa-sol-la-re by Frescobaldi that follows. Even where a composer is represented by several works they are always complementary, as demonstrated by the very different character of the two Lassus items. The dark, organ-like sonorities of Die kalte Nacht – what a gorgeous piece this is – are set against the lighter, more athletic Matona mia cara.

The joyful intricacy of the two Gabrieli pieces is beautifully realised here, as is the halting loveliness of Dowland’s ayre Flow my tears. Of all the pieces here, this and the Lachrimae Pavan – the latter an instrumental work on which the ayre is based have astonishing emotional range, all of it most eloquently distilled by these fine players. But it’s not all high seriousness, as the clutch of Spanish pieces from the Cancioneros de Upsala demonstrate; indeed, the dance-like rhythms of Un ni ño nos es nacido are as buoyant as one could hope for, and the mischievous, jazzy inflections and showy solos of Flecha’s villancico, Ríu Ríu Chíu and the unattributed E la don don will surely raise a smile or two. The disc ends with pieces from the so-called Sankt Gallen collection, among them Josquin’s haunting chanson, Fors seulement, and a short, bouncy little version of de Orto’s Se je perdu mon amy.

Even if you prefer lutes, cornets and sackbuts in this repertoire I’m sure you’ll be captivated by the sound and spirit of this engaging collection. Both playing and sonics are first-rate, and I’d recommend this disc to anyone with a sense of adventure – and fun.

-- Dan Morgan, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Ricercari (8) sopra li toni, a 4: Ricercare del quinto tono by Giovanni Palestrina
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Ricercari (8) sopra li toni, a 4: Ricercare del primo tono by Giovanni Palestrina
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Drei Allemanden und eine Tripla by Tylman Susato
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Pavane La Dona by Tylman Susato
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1551 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Ludi musici, Book 1: Cantus no 18, Canzon Cornetto à 4 by Samuel Scheidt
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1621; Halle, Germany 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Ricercari, et canzoni franzese, Vol.1 No.10, Recercar Decimo. Obligo la, fa, sol, la, fa, re, for ke by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Canzoni (40) da sonare, libro primo: no 13 by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Un niño nos es nacido by Anonymous
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Spain 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Riu, riu, chiu by Matheo Flecha
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Ojos garços ha la niña by Anonymous
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 47 Secs. 
E la don don Verges María, villancico by Anonymous
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Cancionero "Corten espados afilados" by Anonymous
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Fors seulement by Josquin Des Préz
Period: Renaissance 
Written: France 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Matona mia cara, villanelle for 4 voices, S. x/93 by Orlando de Lassus
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 59 Secs. 
La nuict froide et sombre (Du Bellay), chanson for 4 voices, B. xii/119 (S. xii/34) by Orlando de Lassus
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 4 Minutes 5 Secs. 
La Spagna: Danza alta by Francisco de la Torre
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1469; Spain 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Ricercari, et canzoni franzese, Vol.1 No. 4, Recercar Quarto. Obligo mi, re, fa , mi, for keyboard i by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Canzoni (6), 1608: Canzon a 4, C 186 "La Spiritata" by Giovanni Gabrieli
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Canzon II a 4, C 187 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Se je perdu mon amy, for 4 voices by Marbrianus de Orto
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
La mi la sol, in 4 parts (playable by instruments) by Isaac Albéniz
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 2 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen (ii), song for 4 voices by Isaac Albéniz
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1510; Austria 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Fammi una gratia, amore, song for 3 voices by Isaac Albéniz
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Second Booke of Songes or Ayres: no 2, Flow, my teares by John Dowland
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1600; England 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 1 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Lachrimae Pavan by John Dowland
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1612; England 
Venue:  RBB, Saal 3 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Ricercar so-mi-la-so (arr. F. Graef)
Ricercare primo tono (arr. F. Graef)
Ricercar La-mi-la-so (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen (arr. F. Graef)
Fammi una gratia, Amore (arr. F. Graef)
3 Allemanden und eine Tripla (arr. F. Graef)
Pavan e Gailard, "La Donna" (arr. F. Graef)
Canzon cornetto (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Ricercar decimo, sopra la, fa, sol, la, re (arr. F. Graef)
Canzon terzadecima a 4 (arr. F. Graef)
Ricercar primo, mi-re-fa-mi (arr. F. Graef)
Die kalte Nacht (arr. F. Graef)
Libro de villanelle, moresche, et altre canzoni (arr. F. Graef): Libro de villanelle, moresche, et altre canzoni: Matona mia cara (arr. F. Graef)
Canzon I a 4, C. 186, "La Spiritata" (arr. for saxophone quartet)
Canzoni et sonate (1615) (arr. for saxophone quartet): Canzoni et sonate (1615): Canzon No. 2 (arr. for saxophone quartet)
Book of Songs, Book 2: Flow, my tears, fall from your springs (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Lachrimae Pavan, P. 15 (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Un nino nos es nacido (A Child is Born Unto Us) (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Riu, Riu, Chiu (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Danza alta, sobre "la Spagna" (arr. C. Hoffmanns)
Ojos garcos (arr. C. Hoffmann)
E la don don (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Corten espadas afiladas (arr. C. Hoffmann)
Se je perdu mon amy (arr. F. Graef)
Fors seulement (arr. F. Graef)
Se je perdu mon amy (arr. F. Graef)

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