Friday, 22 June 2018

Good Sax!

Paris-based Habanera Saxophone Quartet has been around since 1993
YTSL suggested we get tickets for a concert we saw tonight, featuring the Habanera Saxophone Quartet from Paris. They along with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong performed at City Hall Concert Hall and it was packed with audience members ranging from children to seniors.

City Chamber Orchestra finished its season tonight
The concert was part of Le French May, originally a month to celebrate the culture of France for a month, but it has since stretched to two. This was the last event for Le French May, and the last concert of the season for the local orchestra.

To warm up the audience, the chamber orchestra led by guest conductor Vahan Mardirossian, performed Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra by Astor Piazzolla. The orchestra was accompanied by pianist Julie Kuok, whose instrument was placed behind the players instead of in front.

We found the first movement slow, but things jazzed up with the second and third movements.

Next came Habanera, and together with the orchestra they performed Ferrer Ferran's Saxiland for Saxophone Quartet and Strings. It's not often you see four saxophonists playing together and with such a range, from soprano to tenor, alto and baritone saxophones!

The musicians were led by Armenian Vahan Mardirossian
During the intermission we bumped into YTSL's friend who once studied music composition and remarked the piece was either meant to punish the saxophone players or they were demanding something more difficult. Either way it was impressive.

After the 15-minute break we reconvened to hear Four Preludes for Saxophone Quartet, Strings and Percussion by Fazil Say. It was quite an abstract piece for the most part, with lots of drumming, even the bongos! But at times the saxophones made interesting sounds that were as if they were plucked like a string instrument. How did they do that?

The audience was thrilled by their performance, and they performed three encores. This is our favourite one -- Tango Virtuoso.

Have you ever seen a quartet of saxophones not only play well together but have a choreographed act too?!

Featuring Habanera Saxophone Quartet
With the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong
Guest conductor Vahan Mardirsossian
Pianist Julie Kuok
City Hall Concert Hall


  1. very good indeed. it makes music more figurative, enjoyable especially to the novice. unfortunately this can only be done with a small group of really talented musicians who are agile in music and dance. ks

    1. This group has been together for a long time so they have been performing this piece for many years!