Connections Saxophone Quartet

Seen at 23 February 2015 @ Rhodes University, Grahamstown

The Connections Saxophone Quartet connects two South Africans and two Frenchmen with an impressive lung capacity. The breath in their brass has brought them together to open all registers near and far away. Connections not only connects musicians in their love of sax, but also African and European compositions interpreted for an audience that is willing to listen. For this occasion at Rhodes University Cecile Dubois (soprano), Paul Richard (alt), Liam Burden (tenor) and Adam Campbell (bass) brought a nice selection of older and newer work in the classical tradition.

Opener Rodeando from David Salleras immediately set the tone for an evening of charming music. The second and third movement of Haydn’s Quartet in F major truely enchanted young and old as we were carried away on the cheerful tunes that mark a lot of Haydn’s oeuvre. This piece was originally composed for a string quartet, but the quartet performed a beautiful interpretation.

Next came some more modern work, the second and fourth movement from the Min Sax 4tet from Allan Stephenson and the world premiere of Tack, especially composed for this Quartet by Clare Loveday. A piece that was very challenging to the musicians, with a sequence of short blows a lot of playfulness, but less accessible for the audience.

Before the interval the Tango Virtuoso by Thierry Escaich. dubois was given all room to shine virtuosic. A souplesse and speed that makes one marvel.

Just as a saxophone has all reasons to be funky, it is also deeply associated with melancholy and that was masterfully captured in the passionate tango’s from Argentinian master of the Tango Astor Piazolla who composed more than hundred. The quartet’s version from Piazolla’s 1939 and 1960 from his Histoire de Tango were again very convincing.

That mood of heartbreak, passion and pain continued with David Salleras’ El Lamento that made you drunk of unspeakable suffering. Valse, mais pas que could only be written by a Frenchman. That undeniable swing from Paris on accordeon was blown into new life by the Quartet’s very Paul Richard who happened to be the composer as well. Last on the program was Suite Hellenique from Pedro Ituralde where the quartet came near jazz.

Playfullness, virtuosity and comraderie hallmarked the Connections Saxophone quartet inviting the audience in the warm sounds of saxophone. As an encore some real klezmer that send everybody into the night with a big smile.