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Amstel Tracks Now!

Amstel Quartet

Amstel Tracks Now!

Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917253429
Catnr: CC 72534
Release date: 13 January 2012
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1 CD
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Label
Challenge Classics
UPC
0608917253429
Catalogue number
CC 72534
Release date
13 January 2012

"The dutch-luxembourgian Saxophone-Ensemble 'Amstel Quartet' is one of the best in the world"

pizzicato
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
Press
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About the album

The idea is simple. After concerts, there is always someone from the audience who comes to talk to us and asks if we have recorded this or that piece. We have heard this repeatedly over the years, so we decided to combine all of the pieces that we and the audience like on one album. The other common link among these pieces is that all have been arranged or composed for or by us. There only one exception: the Rivier, a traditional saxophone quartet, but because we feel such a strong connection to this piece, we decided to make it as well. Before the release of the Amstel Tracks” we did not think it was such a strong concept, but we were wrong. The album turned out to be the most personal and successful Amstel Quartet CD. The concept of personal taste and emotional links to the works we play turned out to be much stronger than any concept on paper. Thus, we hope that Amstel Tracks Now! will live up to the expectations of all our fans. After we finished the recording, we realised that releasing this album would mark our fifteenth anniversary.
Het meest kleurrijke saxofoonkwartet ter wereld
Het Amstel Quartet speelt muziek van onder andere Bach, Brahms, Ravel en Tan Dun. Amstel Tracks NOW! is het meest succesvolle en persoonlijke album van het Amstel Quartet. Persoonlijke voorkeur en een emotionele band met de gespeelde muziek zijn duidelijk te horen. "Een prachtig programma, muzikaal subliem opgebouwd en gespeeld met absolute toewijding. De pure schoonheid van timbres, de samenhang van het spelen van de leden van het Amstel Quartet, hun symbiose van kleuren en spirituele implicaties transformeren hun interpretaties in rolmodellen van muzikaliteit." Remy Franck, Pizzicato, januari 2012.

Na een concert krijgt het Amstel Quartet regelmatig de vraag van iemand uit het publiek of ze ook dit of dat stuk opgenomen hebben. Dat gebeurde zo vaak dat ze besloten Amstel Tracks NOW! te maken. Een verzameling van muziek waar het publiek dol op is, maar ook het kwartet zelf. Daarbij komt dat de stukken allemaal gearrangeerd of gecomponeerd zijn door of voor het Amstel Quartet. Alleen het stuk van de Franse componist Jean Rivier vormt hierop een uitzondering. De saxofonisten voelden zo'n sterke band met dit stuk, dat ze het ook op het album wilden opnemen. Het Amstel Quartet wint regelmatig prijzen voor hun altijd verrassende, opzwepende, educatieve, innovatieve en swingende optredens.

Das bunteste Saxphon-Quartett der Welt

Das Amstel Quartett ist "das bunteste Saxophon-Quartett der Welt": Alte Musik, neue Musik, volkstümliche Musik, Weltmusik...erlaubt ist, was gefällt! Aber nur unter einer Bedingung: Die ausgewählte Musik muss gute Musik sein, fesselnd und unter allen Umständen bereichernd.

Die quicklebendigen Musiker kennen keine technischen Beschränkungen und Musikgrenzen existieren nur, um überschritten zu werden. Das hat den Vier Bewunderung in aller Welt eingebracht und es überrascht nicht, dass eine Live-Darbietung des Amstel Quartetts einem Pop-Konzert ähnelt. Sie suchen den direkten Kontakt mit dem Publikum und überzeugen durch ihre unglaubliche Energie und Präzision der Ausführung. Eine ungewöhnliche und aufregende CD!

Artist(s)

Amstel Quartet

“The most colourful saxophone quartet in the world”, that is the Amstel Quartet. Old music, new music, popular music, world music, anything goes with Remco Jak, Olivier Sliepen, Bas Apswoude and Ties Mellema. On one condition: the music played by the Amstel Quartet is good music, gripping music, and presented in a way that complements, enriches and clarifies the music. Technical limitations do not exist, and musical boundaries are there only to be crossed. This has earned the foursome a host of admirers all over the world. Not surprisingly, a performance by the Amstel Quartet is like a pop concert, full of energy, sincere contact with the audience, and the music is always exciting and moving. The Amstel Quartet’s programmes are always...
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“The most colourful saxophone quartet in the world”, that is the Amstel Quartet. Old music, new music, popular music, world music, anything goes with Remco Jak, Olivier Sliepen, Bas Apswoude and Ties Mellema.
On one condition: the music played by the Amstel Quartet is good music, gripping music, and presented in a way that complements, enriches and clarifies the music. Technical limitations do not exist, and musical boundaries are there only to be crossed. This has earned the foursome a host of admirers all over the world. Not surprisingly, a performance by the Amstel Quartet is like a pop concert, full of energy, sincere contact with the audience, and the music is always exciting and moving.
The Amstel Quartet’s programmes are always surprising, uplifting, educational, innovative and swinging. Of course, the saxophone is a young instrument, and the saxophone quartet is mainly an ensemble of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but Bach would take his hat off to the Amstel Quartet, if he heard them play his work. That is, after all, what modern-day composers such as György Ligeti, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Peteris Vasks and Arvo Pärt have done. And it is no coincidence that artists from other disciplines, and even other cultures, enjoy working with the quartet. Dance, mime, theatre, film, an Indian tabla player, everything is possible as long as it does justice to the music played by the quartet.
The strength of the Amstel Quartet lies in quality of the individuals, which, brought together, produces quality far beyond that. The foursome found each other in 1997 after a tour with the National Youth Orchestra, and from that first encounter sprung a rapidly streaming river. Virtuosity, breaking new ground and unparalleled perseverance have since become key words. Baritone saxophonist Ties Mellema made a full comeback after a serious accident involving his right hand, even winning the Dutch Music Prize in 2010.
The Amstel Quartet as a whole also regularly wins awards. The Concert Artists Guild Management Award, The Kersjes Prize, the Gaudeamus Interpreters Concours, to name but a few achievements that demonstrate the international recognition the quartet receives. This is why the four musicians continue to express their love for the saxophone and the unique versatility of the saxophone quartet as a perfect unit, with original CDs, a scintillating series in the Amsterdam Felix Meritis, performances in beautiful halls such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Philharmonie in Luxemburg, Carnegie Hall in New York and extensive tours through Europe, Russia, the Middle East, China, Japan and the United States.

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Composer(s)

Samuel Barber

The American composer Samuel Barber is one of the most celebrated 20th-century composers. He was never a part of the musical avant-garde, and wrote instead pieces in a Romantic idiom, characterized by rich harmonies and complex rhythms. His most beloved work is het lyrical Adagio for Strings, an arrangement of the slow movement of his String Quartet, that can be heard in both concerts and films. His Knoxville: Summer of 1915 for soprano and orchestra is also regularly performed. Barber became interested in music at an early age, and was very talented indeed. At the age of seven he wrote his first composition, a short piece for piano. Two years later he knew that he was meant to be a composer....
more
The American composer Samuel Barber is one of the most celebrated 20th-century composers. He was never a part of the musical avant-garde, and wrote instead pieces in a Romantic idiom, characterized by rich harmonies and complex rhythms. His most beloved work is het lyrical Adagio for Strings, an arrangement of the slow movement of his String Quartet, that can be heard in both concerts and films. His Knoxville: Summer of 1915 for soprano and orchestra is also regularly performed.
Barber became interested in music at an early age, and was very talented indeed. At the age of seven he wrote his first composition, a short piece for piano. Two years later he knew that he was meant to be a composer. During his studies he wrote a number of successful compositions which put him into the spotlight of the American musical life. He made his international breakthrough during his travels through Europe in 1935-1936 with his colleague and partner Gian Carlo Menotti.
Barber’s compositions were performed by leading conductors such as Dimitri Mitropoulos, George Szell and Leopold Stokowski. He also received commissions by famous artists and authorities. Barber was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to compose a new opera for the opening of its new building in 1966. The premiere of this work, Antony and Cleopatra, was plagued with technical problems that overshadowed Barber’s music. The critics rejected the work, which sent the composer into a depression. After his recovery he continued to compose till the end of his life.

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Maurice Ravel

Joseph Maurice Ravel was a French composer who is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer. Born to a music-loving family, Ravel attended France's premier music college, the Paris Conservatoire; he was not well regarded by its conservative establishment, whose biased treatment of him caused a scandal. After leaving the Conservatoire Ravel found his own way as a composer, developing a style of great clarity, incorporating elements of baroque, neoclassicism and, in his later works, jazz. He liked to experiment with musical form, as in his best-known work, Boléro (1928), in which repetition takes the place of...
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Joseph Maurice Ravel was a French composer who is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer.
Born to a music-loving family, Ravel attended France's premier music college, the Paris Conservatoire; he was not well regarded by its conservative establishment, whose biased treatment of him caused a scandal. After leaving the Conservatoire Ravel found his own way as a composer, developing a style of great clarity, incorporating elements of baroque, neoclassicism and, in his later works, jazz. He liked to experiment with musical form, as in his best-known work, Boléro (1928), in which repetition takes the place of development. He made some orchestral arrangements of other composers' music, of which his 1922 version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is the best known.
As a slow and painstaking worker, Ravel composed fewer pieces than many of his contemporaries. Among his works to enter the repertoire are pieces for piano, chamber music, two piano concertos, ballet music, two operas, and eight song cycles; he wrote no symphonies and only one religious work. Many of his works exist in two versions: a first, piano score and a later orchestration. Some of his piano music, such as Gaspard de la nuit (1908), is exceptionally difficult to play, and his complex orchestral works such as Daphnis et Chloé (1912) require skilful balance in performance.

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Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. His reputation and status as a composer is such that he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the 'Three Bs' of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.   Brahms composed for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, piano, organ, and voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works. He worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become...
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Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. His reputation and status as a composer is such that he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs" of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.
Brahms composed for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, piano, organ, and voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works. He worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.
Brahms has been considered, by his contemporaries and by later writers, as both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Classical masters. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers. Within his meticulous structures is embedded, however, a highly romantic nature.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose actual name is Joannes Chrysotomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a composer, pianist, violinist and conductor from the classical period, born in Salzburg. Mozart was a child prodigy. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. Along with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart is considered to be one of the most influential composers of all of music's history. Within the classical tradition, he was able to develop new musical concepts which left an everlasting impression on all the composers that came after him. Together with Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven he is part of the First Viennese School.  At 17, Mozart was engaged as...
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose actual name is Joannes Chrysotomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a composer, pianist, violinist and conductor from the classical period, born in Salzburg. Mozart was a child prodigy. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. Along with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart is considered to be one of the most influential composers of all of music's history. Within the classical tradition, he was able to develop new musical concepts which left an everlasting impression on all the composers that came after him. Together with Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven he is part of the First Viennese School. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. From 1763 he traveled with his family through all of Europe for three years and from 1769 he traveled to Italy and France with his father Leopold after which he took residence in Paris. On July 3rd, 1778, his mother passed away and after a short stay in Munich with the Weber family, his father urged him to return to Salzburg, where he was once again hired by the Bishop. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death.


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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and hundreds of cantatas. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.  Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.  
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Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and hundreds of cantatas. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.

Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.


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Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

If it were up to Calvinism, all the organs would have been destroyed during the Beeldenstorm, the outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century. Thanks to city governments, the organs were saved. Strictly speaking, Sweelinck was a servant for the city government as well as the city organist of Amsterdam. His organ and harpsichord music was also used during international negotiations, making his music arguably quite influential.  Sweelinck's music should not be listened to with the same ears as one listens to Bach, Beethoven or Brahms. His instrumental works have its own completely unique expression, including temporal modulations, instead of tonal ones. His toccatas, variations and fantasies often start modestly, and gradually increase in movement....
more
If it were up to Calvinism, all the organs would have been destroyed during the Beeldenstorm, the outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century. Thanks to city governments, the organs were saved. Strictly speaking, Sweelinck was a servant for the city government as well as the city organist of Amsterdam. His organ and harpsichord music was also used during international negotiations, making his music arguably quite influential. Sweelinck's music should not be listened to with the same ears as one listens to Bach, Beethoven or Brahms. His instrumental works have its own completely unique expression, including temporal modulations, instead of tonal ones. His toccatas, variations and fantasies often start modestly, and gradually increase in movement. Especially his fantasies are masterpieces in this regard. Take for instance his Chromatic Fantasy. The first part uses the chromaticism by alternating whole and half steps. In the second section, the theme is enlarged to a complete cantus firmus, while the embellishments increase in speed. In the third section, the chromatic theme is increased in speed as well, after which the whole work is finished with a graceful bow.
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Tan Dun

As a child, the Chinese composer Tan Dun was fascinated by the ceremonies and rituals of the village shaman, which were accompanied by music made with natural objects such as water and rocks. As a result of the Cultural Revolution, many looked down on such customs. Dun was discouraged from pursuing a musical career and was sent to a commune to work as a rice planter. Yet he remained to be engaged in musical activities. He joined an ensemble in the commune and learned to play traditional Chinese string instruments. Tan Dun got away from the commune when several members of a traveling Peking opera company died as a result of an accident, and he was called upon as a fiddler....
more
As a child, the Chinese composer Tan Dun was fascinated by the ceremonies and rituals of the village shaman, which were accompanied by music made with natural objects such as water and rocks. As a result of the Cultural Revolution, many looked down on such customs. Dun was discouraged from pursuing a musical career and was sent to a commune to work as a rice planter. Yet he remained to be engaged in musical activities. He joined an ensemble in the commune and learned to play traditional Chinese string instruments.
Tan Dun got away from the commune when several members of a traveling Peking opera company died as a result of an accident, and he was called upon as a fiddler. When the Central Conservatory of Music re-opened in 1977, he was one of the first who was selected to attend. There he came into contact with composers like George Crumb, Alexander Goehr, Toru Takemitsu and Chou Wen-Chung, who have influenced his musical style. He was already famous in China by the time he moved to New York in 1986.
Currently Tan Dun is one of the world’s most sought-after composers. He is most widely known for his operas and his music for the films Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He is also known for regularly using multimedia in his compositions and for creating new artistic formats, including organic music, played by natural instruments such as paper and water, and orchestral theatre, which synthesizes Western classical music with Chinese ritual and focuses on the relationship between performer and audience.

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Press

The dutch-luxembourgian Saxophone-Ensemble 'Amstel Quartet' is one of the best in the world
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