CD reviews
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cd Ich stuend an einem MorgenA very attractive collection of 16th century songs about love and life. Artful settings of simple tunes like Elslein, liebes Elselein, Ich stuend an einem Morgen and the famous evergreen: Insbruck, ich muss dich lassen. Written by Ludwig Senfl, Heinrich Isaac & Paul Hofhaimer. Sung by rising star Marcel Beekman and accompanied by the virtuoso players of the Brisk Recorder Quartet.
discPLUS © 25.08.2011

Das deutsche Tenorlied erlebte seine Blütezeit im 16. Jahrhundert. Die Tenormelodie, der Ausgangspunkt dieser Lieder, beruht meist auf einer beliebten Volksweise, die von Komponisten wie Ludwig Senfl und Heinrich Isaac kunstvoll mit der Begleitung verarbeitet wurden.
Marcel Beekman und das Brisk Recorder Quartet Amsterdam haben die schönsten Beispiele ausgewählt und für GLOBE eingespielt. Singstimme und Blockfl ötenquartett ergänzen sich hier wunderbar.
Note 1.

For musicians, Venice is one of the most inspiring European cities
. The reflection of the buildings in the water is perhaps even more impressive than the town itself. And perhaps this is also true for the performances by the Brisk recorder quartet: the original compositions are impressive, but the arrangements by this quartet appeal even more to the imagination. This recording is much more than just a cross-section of the Venetian musical history from the 16th century onwards. All buildings in the town are marked by the sun, the wind and the water, but how much music was absorbed by these walls in the course of time? This is the interesting question that Renske Vrolijk tried to answer in her new composition Ghost Wall. Both her tribute and the two Estampies by Saskia Coolen, who is a member of the quartet herself, complete the image of Venice, that reflects itself in contemporary culture. Vrolijk choses her musical material in the same subtle way that BRISK uses to paint the musical past of this town. And Coolen demonstrates that working with old composition techniques is is not only a matter of days long gone.
(Klassieke Zaken, Andrew van Parijs, March 2010)

For almost 25 years now, BRISK has been proving that the recorder has a life of its own after lessons at the music school.  Together with the Loeki Stardust Quartet, these pupils from the school of Frans Brüggen are part of the soul of the recorder movement that has spread all over Holland since the eighties. Since then, BRISK has always been at the front of the recorder league, and the group regularly releases new CDs thanks to its stable composition and ever intriguing programmes. Their new CD The Spirit of Venice is much more than the slightly obligatory title promises. In an immaculate manner, the quartet shows the beauty of diminutions, intavolations and madrigals by composers such as Claudio Merulo, Adrian Willaert and Clément Janequin and of concertos by Vivaldi in their own arrangements. But the group brings this repertoire into perspective by adding a recent work by Renske Vrolijk as a central moment on the CD. Ghost Wall (2008) refers to the colourful musical language of Venetian composers from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, but the piece follows its own modern path. Thus the pure simplicity of music by Bendusi which follows straight after, stands in a new and radiant Venetian light. This makes this BRISK CD a little gem. Even for recorder haters.

(Luister, Paul Janssen, June 2010)

…However different, all pieces reveal bubbling rhythmical energy and virtuosic melody lines like small waterfalls. BRISK plays with admirable sharpness and flair, organic as one breathing body. .. Ghost Wall by Renske Vrolijk evokes images of old buildings that bear secrets behind their walls – like the voices of the deceased. Digital fragments of Renaissance madrigals sung by Johannette Zomer are woven into the recorder music. Bird sounds and solemn cantilenas are mixed with fairylike whispering, rattling stones and fragments of a singing voice…This intoxicating piece is the absolute highlight of this CD…
(Thea Derks Blog, 1 July 2010)


cd The Domestication of the Animal WorldThe suite The domestication of the animal world by Thomas Campion is a masque, a work of art in which dance, poetry, music and theatre were combined. You can listen to this work on the CD, or watch it with animations on the DVD. Four students of the HKU made the animation film that shows Orpheus while taming the animal world with his music. There is a great diversity of styles in these animations. Orpheus is a Matisse-like line figure, the rabbits are primitive pencil strokes, and other animals look like silhouettes. The image is always simple, moving and in harmony with the music. The Brisk recorder quartet, together with three string players and a harp, gives an elegant and clear performance of this music, very much together. Orpheus’ harp is really magic and the melodic playing of all instrumentalists is perfect down to the last detail and extremely varied in dynamics in a subtle way. This is the lyrical counterpart of the famous and well-known Carnaval des animaux by Saint-Saëns. In short, a delightful DVD for children and for adults who are able to rediscover the child in themselves. Apart from my enthusiasm for the animations, I appreciate the CD very much as well. All works are played in a beautifully balanced way. Byrd’s Fantasia a 6 for instance, to mention one piece apart, is an immaculate demonstration of the refined musicianship of these players.

(Klassieke Zaken, Willem Veldhuizen, October 2007)

Review on the English site  Musical Pointers


Reviews of the CD Vintage (released December 2006)

… Brisk is an indication of tempo and atmosphere in Purcell’s music, and the sound of this word is playful and relaxed. This has exactly been the quality of this ensemble over the last twenty years… Vintage is not only a BRISK birthday party, it is also an ode to the diversity of Dutch composing…
Performance: 10 ( Luister, January 2007)

… First general musical education, then recorder lessons, and finally ‘a real instrument’. This music school approach has done a lot of harm to the status of the recorder. But luckily there are musicians who prove that the recorder is a real instrument, not only for early, but also for contemporary repertoire… 
These fifteen pieces by various Dutch composers are a choice of over 50 works written for BRISK since 1988. The quartet plays on many different recorders, but they also use their voices fairly well in the hectic Johnny Buy by Theo Abazis. There are also real singers: the Egidius kwartet takes part in two pieces about Pan, by Daan Manneke and Bart Visman. 
…Pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama joins the quartet in Pogo by Guus Janssen and in Oh, I’m Sorry, Did I BREAK Your Concentration? by Michiel Mensingh, based on break beats from modern dance music. A strong piece that reminds us of John Adams. The biggest number of guests is heard in the hilarious Brisk Frog Project by Huba de Graaff. Here the recorders are accompanied by a choir of frogs…
…This 75 minutes’ programme remains fascinating owing to the enormous variation in style and atmosphere, together with brilliant musicianship and a fair amount of humour…
( Jan Luijsterburg,


Reviews of the CD Schein & Scheidt (released February 2006)

…The combination of recorders and organ might be too much of the same sound, but not so on this CD, thanks to the open sound of the Renaissance recorders. The music is exciting and varied, with the recorders in both high and low consorts…Paduan Dolorosa (track 9) is still one of my favourite consort pieces. It is almost impossible to hear independent organ and recorder voices in these slow works. This is more obvious in the quicker movements where the players use a sharp articulation. A lovely CD…
Performance 9
(LUISTER, October 2006)

Die drei großen “Sch”, Johann Herrmann Schein (1586-1630), Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) und Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) waren bestimmend für das deutsche Musikleben in der ersten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts. Doch nur Schein und Scheidt beschäftigten sich neben der geistlichen Vokalmusik auch intensiv mit rein instrumentalen Genres. Auf der CD des Brisk Recorder
Quartet Amsterdam erklingt eine reizvolle Auswahl aus verschiedenen Instrumentalsammlungen (z.B. aus Scheins Venuskränzlein und Scheidts Ludi Musici), einerseits Bearbeitungen, aber auch einige Werke, die alle möglichen Besetzungen erlauben. Die Spielfreude der Niederländer nimmt auch den skeptischsten Verächter der Blockflöte für das Instrument ein.

(www.note, 2006)

These marvelous players take music that is both flexible in terms of instrumental choices, and also most suitable for recorders, and articulate it in a virtuosic and delightful manner. This recording brings new life and light to the very familiar suites from the Banchetto Musicale. The program notes by Saskia Coolen and Bert Honig are very well done, and the recording (produced by Erik Beijer) conveys an excellent sonic image of the ensemble.

(American Recorder January 2007)