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On Classical Tour with the Baritone Saxophone

by Henk van Twillert - Baritone Sax | Gian Maria Bonino - Piano

Pavane 05:38
Liebesleid 02:45


(1998) On classical tour with the baritone sax

When Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1840, he saw the “brass reed instrument” as sort of “ middle Ground” between the woodwind and brass of the military wind band. But this extraodinary instrument, which exhibits characteristics of both the woodwind and brass families, turned out to be much more versatile. It produced a sound – at once veiled and sharp – and a lyricism suggestive of a dreamy human voice that entranced nineteenth century composers.
As early as 1844 the French composer Jean Georges Kastner used the instrument’s “vocal” qualities in his now largely forgotten opera Le dernier roi de Juda. Such illustrious names as Bizet, Meyerbeer, Massenet, Musorgsky and Ravel followed suit, and the saxophone came to occupy a regular and felicitous place in the Symphony orchestra. But in these orchestral works the saxophone was just one instrument among many, a distinctive color in the orchestra. It was only in the early twentieth century that composers started writing solo or chamber works for the instrument – Claude Debussy’ Rhapsody for alto saxophone and piano (1901 – 08) being a prime example.
Despite the proliferations of works in this genre, many saxophonists believed that there was something missing. A new instrument, playing new music not firmly rooted in a centuries-old tradition lacks a foundation, lacks the very music that contemporary composers – consciously or unconsciously – draw upon and develop. Where do the contemporary notes of the German, French, Spanish and Russians composers stem from? What is the frame of reference?
To give the saxophone a history of its own, the saxophonist Henk van Twillert turned his sights to transcription, or rather transformation. His aim was to bring the great chamber works of the nineteenth and early twentieth century within the realm of the saxophone repertoire, placing both the instrument and its technical capabilities( Phrasing, accentuation, dynamics , etcetera) in am historical framework. The cello parts of Schumann and Fauré’s works for cello and piano fit the baritone saxophone like a glove. And the melody line of the other works could all have been conceived with the lyrical qualities of the saxophone in mind. This technical consideration aside, the major reason to play such classics as Schumann’s Fantasiestücke OP 73, Satie’s Gymnpédies, Ravel’s piece en forme de Habanera, and Debussy’s Golliwogg’s cake walk on the saxophone in that they are musical jewels whose power to move the spirit remains whatever the arrangement. This alone makes it worthwhile to hear these works given new life through the luscious, sultry tones of the baritone saxophone.


released June 29, 2020


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Henk van Twillert Netherlands

Henk van Twillert is a versatile saxophonist who plays his baritone, in such a way it goes through vaines and touches the soul! His genre is diverse; Classic, World Music, Jazz and many other styles are part of his oeuvre. Playing solo, with an orchestra, with the Vento do Norte Saxophone Ensemble, with the quartet or with the piano; in a small church or a city theatre, everything is possible. ... more

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