Confluence: Seven centuries of music by a unique duo Dec 09 by Niels Bijl in News

The Album Confluence is a mixed bag of seven centuries of music history played by a unique duo: Saxophone and Recorder. As far as we know this combination has never been heard, and if you’d ask me twenty-five years ago I probably would have laughed at the suggestion of such a duo.

niels-bijl-en-ronald-moelker-kleinRonald Moelker and I met at a record store in my home town, and because of our common interests and love for music we decided to play together, no matter what the instrument combination would be. It was simply an attempt to add two musical personalities together, and we realised that all obstacles would simply have to be taken one step at a time.

We started experimenting with a wide range of recorders and saxophones: the most ordinary ones, but also rare instruments like vintage 1920’s saxophones and very low and high recorders. We soon realised that with standard instruments the combination of high versus low worked beautifully, like a bass recorder with soprano saxophone or vice versa. If we would play at the same register the recorder would quite often be smothered by the full sound of the saxophone.

Adriana breukink has been a life long friend of Ronald, and has a reputation of being one of the most influential recorder builders world wide. She would quite often come to our concerts and rehearsals, and she got so inspired by the possibilities of our instrument combination that we became an active part in her search for recorders with a bigger sound and larger reach. the outcome of this search is a marvelous instrument called the Eagle Recorder, an instrument that can easily blend and compete with a wide range of other contemporary instruments and ensembles.

For the Album Confluence we decided to make the repertoire as varied as possible. Not just to express the wide range of options for our duo, but mostly because of our interest in all different kinds of music. And the common quirk that both Ronald and I can get bored quite easily 🙂

As you can see two composers do form the back bone of this disc: Johan Sebastian Bach and Georg Phillip Telemann. Telemann’s flute fantasias are crucial to both our careers and are simply the reason that we started playing together. Bach has always been an inspiration to most musicians, but for us the Art of Fugue has always played a pivital role in our lives. I’ve been a member of the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet for acdba091-217 years now, and the biggest project we’ve ever done is our recording of the entire Art of Fugue, and the Canon on Confluence is, in my humble opinion, the absolute proof of Bach’s endless genius. The Sonata is a favourite amongst flute players, and with our approach we’ve stripped this masterpiece by giving the full bass- and accompanying structure to the baritone saxophone. The first track of the Album is an odd choice: the first movement of a solo violin sonata, played on a low saxophone… The choice is simple; it’s a homage to one of the fore runners of baroque music in the Netherlands: Anner Bylsma. He recorded this entire sonata on is son’s Piccolo Violoncello: a smaller version of the modern Cello. By playing this movement on an instrument with a deeper range it brings out a unique and new quality to this gorgeous music.

Niels Bijl

For Niels, it’s all about musicality and integrity. Whether he’s playing Bach on baritone, JacobTV on alto, Baldwine on soprano or original pieces written for him on his beloved tenor saxophone, it’s all about bringing the music to life. His major projects include CDs with repertoire for tenor saxophone, the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet, The Four Baritones and his collaboration with Ronald Moelker and many other varied musicians from accordion to harp to string quartet.

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