BRISK, the ensemble’s name, is intended to convey an idea of liveliness and wakefulness. A critic once described the ensemble as providing “a coup de grâce for the recorder’s respectable image”. BRISK’s concerts exhibit variation of style and mood, virtuosity and light-heartedness in equal measure. The quartet always appear on stage with an enormous assembly of recorders. Since their founding in 1986, BRISK has given many concerts in important concert halls and festivals throughout Europe, in Bolivia, Canada and the USA. BRISK has recorded for radio and television both in the Netherlands and abroad, as well as recording over ten CDs that have been well received by both press and public.
Its daring programming of early music in combination with contemporary music is designed to expand the borders of the ensemble’s repertoire. Many composers have dedicated works to the quartet. BRISK works regularly with fellow musicians as well as with artists from other related disciplines such as actors, directors, librettists and film-makers.
BRISK made its name through lively performances of early music, the search for little-known repertoire, and for the many arrangements that the ensemble has made, which suit the style and tradition of the instrument. BRISK has collaborated with Amaryllis Dieltiens, Michael Chance, Marcel Beekman, Johannette Zomer, Maarten Koningsberger, the Egidius Kwartet, the Gesualdo Consort, Bernard Winsemius, Leo van Doeselaar, Rainer Zipperling, Mike Fentross and Camerata Trajectina amongst others.
The long list of composers that have written music for the quartet includes Martijn Padding, Kate Moore, Calliope Tsoupaki, Bart Visman, Klaas de Vries, Roderik de Man and many others.
New works are presented as a comment on or as a contrast to older works in BRISK’s programmes. There is also a large quantity of new music in BRISK’s programmes for younger audiences. BRISK regularly gives concerts in collaboration with specialists in contemporary music such as pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama, composer and improviser Guus Janssen, vocalist Greetje Bijma and percussionist Ramon Lormans.
BRISK has created a number of highly successful productions for children with directors David Prins, Jetse Batelaan, Marc Krone, Gienke Deuten and actors Porgy Franssen, Bart Kiene and Hans Thissen.
The quartet possesses a great variety of instruments; its extensive contacts with recorder makers throughout the world ensure that its collection is in a state of continual development. This variety of instruments enables the ensemble to perform works from the Renaissance and the Baroque as well as the 20th and 21st centuries in their correct tuning and with the correct timbre.
Andrea Gabrieli is being considered as one of the most seminal Venetian composers of the Renaissance age. Yet, details about his life are scarce. In previous studies his year of birth was estimated to be around 1510 and he was thought to be a student of Adrian Willaert, who was the kapellmeister of St Mark's Basilica at the time. In the 1980s, however, registers were discovered showing not only his date of death (August 30, 1585) but also showed he was "about 52 years old", making his year of birth 1533.
One thing that is certain is that between 1562 and 1565 he stayed in Germany, in Munich, to work with Orlando Di Lasso. In 1566 he became the main organist of St Mark's Basilica in Venice.