At the quarterly Dag in de Branding Festival in The Hague, the afternoon concert in de Elandkerk (Elk Church) was substantially amended. No 'Récit' for saxophones composed by Luciano Berio. Ned McGowan's Wurgelguik was skipped. Instead American composer Ned McGowan, who spoke fluently Dutch in announcing his performance, played 'The Singing Wall' on contrabass flute (a gigantic, over two meters tall instrument). A composition included in his brand new CD, called 'The art of the contrabass flute'. The six minute low tone piece sounded remarkably well in the huge building. This 'grave' (Italian) composition fitted perfectly with a church as venue. Deep austere sounds, which forced a speedy breathing between a cluster of notes.
Then Erik-Jan de With took the stage with his tubax. A kind of contrabass saxophone. He performed two pieces by the in Paris living American composer Tom Johnson: Rational Melody number X and number XV. The artist born in 1939 composed these pieces in 1982. As the name hints the music is based on logic, symmetry and mathematics. With Rational Melody number X being a more tranquil, melodic composition number XV is a highly dynamic piece. A phenomenal performance, music wise and playing these highly demanding pieces on tubax.
Erik-Jan de With
This was followed by a gigantic army of flutists and saxophonists. About seventy in total, with four flutists and four saxophonists being the principal instrumentalists. The Branding Ensemble also consisted of a percussionist, a counter tenor (Kaspar Kröner), and conductor Christian Karlsen. These musicians were brought together to perform 'Studi per l'intonazione del mare' (Italian for Studies for the intonation of the sea) by Italian composer Salvatore Sciarinno. A lenghty piece which expresses, in my opinion, the overwhelming quietness which one feels while strolling along the beach. But there are waves, sometimes huge, sometimes tiny. Sciarinno himself considers this piece more of a mythical experience with the cyclus of waves coming ashore, retreat of the regenerated water to its origin and starting anew with waves heading for shore.