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Vintage Brisk – Contemporary Music for Recorder Quartet
Ron FORD (b. 1959)
Sequentia (1996) [4:12]
Bart VISMAN (b. 1962)
Song (2006) [2:45]
Hymn of Pan (2000)# [9:45]
Theo ABAZIS (b. 1967)
Johnny Buy (1999) [6:51]
Roderik de MAN (b. 1941)
Gotta minute? (2006) [1:36]
Guus JANSSEN (b. 1951)
Pogo 1 (2005)* [4:39]
Rahoe! (2006) [1:28]
Daan MANNEKE (b. 1939)
La flûte de Pan (2000)# [7:35]
Huba de GRAAF (b. 1959)
The Brisk Frog project (2006) [9:10]
Calliope TSOUPAKI (b. 1963)
2000&1 (1999) [6:03]
Estampida (2006) [1:48]
Michiel MENSINGH (b. 1975)
Happy ‘Birds’- day (2006) [1:12]
Oh, I’m Sorry, Did I BREAK Your Concentration? (2005)* [10:21]
Willem WANDER VAN NIEUWKERK (b. 1955)
Quartet (part 3) (1991) [6:36]
Catch (an Angel) (2006) [1:27]
Brisk Recorder Quartet Amsterdam; Tomoko Mukaiyama (piano)*; Egidius Quartet #
rec. Hervormde kerk, Mijnesheerenland, May 2006 and Waalse kerk, Amsterdam, September 2006
GLOBE GLO5220 [75:26]



The Brisk Recorder Quartet Amsterdam celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006. In the meantime they made quite a reputation both in ancient and contemporary music. Over these twenty years they have commissioned a considerable number of works from Dutch composers; a list is duly printed in the insert notes. This anniversary release concentrates on Dutch works composed by composers from different generations, since Daan Manneke was born in 1939 - and is thus the ‘Grand Old Man’ here - whereas Michiel Mensingh was born in 1975. Moreover, the above details show the huge variety of Brisk’s commissions; a few short works were composed for Brisk’s 20th anniversary. Need I say that some of these composers and their works are completely new to me?
 
There are fifteen works in all, and I will not go into too many details about them, since – as I have just mentioned – some of them, particularly the works for the quartet’s 20th anniversary, are really quite short. However, the huge stylistic range is quite remarkable and many works turned out to be enjoyable and often entertaining. There are nevertheless a few works that call for comment. Most worthy of singling out are Manneke’s La flûte de Pan and Visman’s Hymn of Pan. These were composed for Brisk and the Egidius Quartet, the latter – surprisingly enough – being a vocal quartet founded in 1995 by four members of Ton Koopman’s Amsterdam Baroque Choir. Manneke sets fragments from Pierre Louÿs’ Les Chansons de Bilitis. This straightforward, but attractively made setting is one of the highlights in this selection as is Visman’s Hymn of Pan setting Shelley’s poem, in which the singers also have to whistle softly. These are the unquestionable highlights, which does not minimise the worth of some of the other works, most of which are quite enjoyable: Ron Ford’s lovely Sequentia or Visman’s Song.
 
As mentioned earlier in this review, some of these pieces were composed as 20th anniversary tributes: Roderik de Man’s Gotta minute?, Janssen’s Rahoe! (the title simply means ‘Hoera’, Hurrah in Dutch), Mensingh’s Happy’Birds’- day and Wander van Nieuwkerk’s Catch (an Angel).
 
A couple of works were also composed for the 2000 Notes project to mark the new millennium. As may be guessed, there were to be two thousand notes in each piece. One such work is Abazis’s Johnny Buy (on a text by Alexis Stamatis) spoken by the players. The other one is Tsoupaki’s 2000&1 which is pleasant enough but lacks variety and thus slightly outstays its welcome. This is not the case for Tsoupaki’s lovely Estampida, a lively, unpretentious dance of great charm.
 
A last word, too, about the most unusual work here: de Graaf’s The Brisk Frog project with tape. Specially-adapted soprano recorders are used: a tiny loudspeaker is attached to the end of each recorder, out of which the pre-recorded sounds are heard; I found this piece of information in the insert notes. I will not tell you the names of all the frogs heard on the tape! Moreover it seems that the players are also requested to imitate frog croaking. The whole is great fun but a bit too long for its own good.
 
I hope that I have been able to give some idea of the huge variety of music to be heard in this release. The playing is immaculate and stunning throughout. Well worth exploring for there is much to enjoy here.
 
Hubert Culot
 



 


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