The Keuris Quartet (KQ) is an international saxophone quartet, specializing in the interpretation of classical contemporary music. After winning First Prize at the inaugural Strasbourg International Saxophone Quartet Competition in 2015, KQ gained international recognition and is considered as one of the brightest saxophone quartets performing today. In 2017, KQ won the Second Prize at the prestigious M-Prize International Chamber Arts Competition in Ann-Arbor, MI (USA).
Founded in 2013 in Amsterdam, the quartet was named after a Dutch composer Tristan Keuris (1946-1996), whose oeuvre includes two highlights of the contemporary saxophone quartet repertoire. The main aim of the quartet is to bring contemporary music to a broader audience by placing their program into a context that makes the music and its emotions easy to perceive.
Since 2016, KQ is regularly performing and giving workshops at the Gaudeamus Music Week (Utrecht), as well as Singapore Saxophone Symposium, Thailand International Composers Festival and more. Repertoire of KQ includes major commissions to contemporary composers such as Thierry Tidrow, Christian Lauba, Alexey Retinsky. In 2019, KQ started a collaboration with Amstel Quartet and recorded an album “Todos los fuegos el fuego” by Maxim Shalygin, which was acclaimed as one of the best classical albums of the year in the Netherlands.
Todos los fuegos el fuego
Composer: Maxim Shalygin
Title: “Todos los fuegos el fuego” 1, based on the eponymous book by Julio Cortázar
Instrumentation: 8 saxophone players
Ensemble: Saxophone Octet (co-work between two extraordinary saxophone quartets Amstel Quartet & Keuris Quartet)
Commissioner: November music and Dag in de Branding festivals with financial support of the Fonds Podiumkunsten.
"Todos los fuegos el fuego” constitutes a mysterious and exciting link between music and literature. The project brought together two prominent Dutch saxophone quartets - Amstel Quartet & Keuris Quartet. Never before have two saxophone quartets worked together on a piece of such length and complexity.
For the second chapter of the life-long Similar cycle (where the first one is: “Lacrimosa or 13 Magic Songs” for 7 violins) , Shalygin draws inspiration from “Todos los fuegos el fuego”, arguably the most enigmatic book by the great Cortázar. All short stories in this collection share an exit into a parallel, magic reality, sometimes near to ours, sometimes strikingly different from it. Their forms provoke peculiar musical dramaturgic solutions, whereas an abundance of pseudo-musical forms enables for the creation of a unique atmosphere, using an enlarged variety of performance techniques.
Suite’s overall structure consists of eight parts, performed by eight saxophone players — as many as there are stories in the book (and syllables in its title, which, incidentally, sounds like a saxophone phrase by itself). The saxophone is chosen for a reason, since, for all his knowledge and passion for music, jazz claimed the most of Cortázar’s attention. Jazz, and accordingly the sound of the saxophonewas his muse and constant presence in many of his most well-known fiction. Moreover, the saxophone is involved in many mystical moments in music, literature, and, last but not least, cinema.
“Todos los fuegos el fuego” is a musical cycle that immerses the listener for one hour in a mystical act, sparking off the imagination and opening up unknown emotional conditions.
Georg Friedrich Haas - Saxophone Quartet (2014)
Alexey Retinsky - DUDA (2019)
Maxim Shalygin - Insane Dances (2016)
Tristan Keuris - Saxophone Quartet (1970)
In Spectral music, only the sound must serve as a basic material for the piece, as composer Gérard Grisey explains: “We are musicians and our model is the sound, not the literature, sound, not the mathematics, sound, not the theater, visual arts, theory of quanta, geology, astrology or acupuncture.” To summarize, we can say that composers of spectral music are the musicians of the sound and not of the note. In the center of this program KQ performs a masterpiece by Georg Friedrich Haas – Saxophone Quartet (2014). This piece is a great example of spectral music, in which Haas shows a wide range of microtones on saxophones and pushes the limits of harmonic overtones. Following a great spectral music tradition in Austria, the Vienna based composer Alexey Retinsky (b. 1984) writes DUDA (2019) – a saxo- phone quartet in which combines spectral elements with tonal, and folklore with modern style.
Commissioned by Gaudeamus Festival and premiered in Singapore by Keuris Quartet in 2016, ‘’Insane Dances’’ by Maxim Shalygin goes beyond the saxophone sound in its traditional sense. With its spectral central part based on multiphonics, this energetic piece invites the listener to join an exciting, provocative, ‘’insane’’ sound experience: Morse code, beatbox, free jazz.
Elisabeth Hetherington | soprano
Marcel Wierckx | visuals
Gavin Bryars - Alaric I or II (1994)
Claudio Monteverdi - Lamento della Ninfa (1638)
Alan Swanson - Equale per quattro sassofoni. Tre frasi di Dante (2015)
Claudio Monteverdi - Pianto della madonna (1640)
Tristan Keuris - Saxophone Quartet (1970)
Maxim Shalygin - Blessing (2018)
Barbara Strozzi - L’Usignuolo (1644)
Live music is back! Passione Alternativa allows the audience to experience the Dutch tradition of the passions under a completely new light within a small scale setting. Visual artist Marcel Wierckx creates fascinating visual landscapes that react to the music and create another layer of perception. It is an interaction between old and new, voice and saxophones, music and visuals.
The program consists of a selection of pieces from the following composers: Tristan Keuris, Gavin Bryars, Alan Swanson, Maxim Shalygin, Claudio Monteverdi, Barbara Strozzi.
This project is made possible with the support of the Fonds Podiumkunsten.