Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra “The Orchestra Goes Out with a Musical “Bad-Boy”

Report: JOA with Clair-obscur in the Dress Rehearsal

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The four well known professional Saxophonists of “clair-obscure” thrilled the audience at the dress rehearsal on 09.09.2016 in the Weinberger Hildthalle with the premiere of the “Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra” by Mark Laycock.


A premiere with very difficult to understand modern music? Not even close! Laycock draws from the musical traditions of the Renaissance to Blues and Jazz of the 20th century. For him, this music should be fun above all, not for example academic Twelve-tone music, but music written in a lively and melodious language, explained to the delight of the audience. The task of connecting European orchestral sound with the strengths of the saxophone and the rhythms of blues and jazz, is perfectly solved. Cantabile melodies alternate with energetic rhythms, intimate dance music is followed by capricious or virtuoso topics. The saxophones play as an ensemble, lead the accompanying orchestra, or are found as a partner with the orchestra, at the end to enormous orchestral sound: everything is included and makes listening a tremendous experience.

10 September 2016

Open Dress Rehearsal of the JOA

…Particularly exciting was the new composition “Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra”. In a charming and endearing manner Mark Laycock introduced this thrilling work himself, and the music wowed the audience completely!

12 September 2016

Exquisite Pieces and Perfect Playing Together

…The concert program was this time especially well selected. The premiere of Mark Laycock’s “Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra”, together with the first-class “clair-obscur” Saxophone Quartet gave the musicians a lot of room to experience new musical relationships. Two standing ovations were given by the public in the sold-out hall.

Peter Klotz

  1. September 2016

 Spicy Riffs and Dripping Heartache

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In the premiere of “Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra” by Mark Laycock (1957), the passionate relationship between a musical “Bad Boy” and the orchestra is laid out multi-dimensionally. The Berlin Saxophone Quartet “clair-obscur” plays in the Concerto (2016) the musical “Bad Boy”.   With beautiful tone, rich color nuances and masterful interplay, Jan Schulte-Bunert (soprano saxophone), Maike Krullmann (alto saxophone), Christoph Enzel (tenor saxophone) and Kathi Wagner (Baritone saxophone) introduce themselves in the first movement “Voces valere” as awakening voices in archaic counterpoint.

In the fierce Passacaglia, “Allegro Flirtuoso” with the orchestra, the second movement brings forth Russian-like waltzes as well as spirits of Leroy Anderson. High-spirited give-and-take rhythmic-motives include effective spicy riffs. The slow movement “Blue Moon” drips from the heart-melting classic US crooners. And in the last movement, exalted music burns orchestra and the saxophone quartet into true fireworks of compressed US entertainment music. Along with demanding symphonic tasks for brass, the percussion group especially has a lot to do. At times the sandbox is stoically shaken, sometimes it sounds South American, and then again is overtaken with strong drum beats in a jazzy style.

Lothar Heinle

Heilbronner Stimme

  1. September 2016


Dear Mr. Laycock

I am one of the Classical Music Critics for the Heilbronner Stimme, and although I was not in that capacity on Wednesday evening I was nevertheless among the audience in Offenau for the concert premiere of your Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra. It was so enjoyable on so many levels that I hope you will permit me to share some of my observations with you:

To begin, it is such an intelligently written piece. In every minute your Concerto makes for a powerful experience. Your progression of musical styles from the Renaissance to the mid-20th Century is very clever and brings the audience through the entire work. The Concerto begins so simply and so transparently with each solo voice being added, that it sets up perfectly the almost mathematical progression of the music accelerating and becoming denser to the very end as the movements become shorter. In this way I found the piece to be brilliantly constructed with great effect.

The dialogue between the soloists, as individuals and as an ensemble, with the orchestra was completely interesting and also most enjoyable. Your use of sounds and textures within the orchestra causes the listener to follow the dialogue with great pleasure, as one never knows what is going to come next. In that sense the work is not predictable at all, but it is unpredictable in the very best entertaining and satisfying way.

There are moments that are funny – as you intend them to be – but they work not because you have lowered yourself to a comic level (for then they would only be base and not be funny at all) but because there is such intelligence behind the writing.

Further, it was obvious to the audience that the interplay between the soloists and the orchestra was one of pleasure and not one of duty. Before your concerto was played, the faces of the entire orchestra changed from the standard seriousness they exhibited in performing the first two works on the program to expressions of happiness and anticipation of what was to come. This affected the entire audience. It was therefore no surprise to me, although it is not common in this part of conservative Germany, for the entire audience to rise immediately to their feet and give you the warmest standing ovation at the conclusion of your work. In the audience was almost a bewilderment with delight that the concert listener could identify with and enjoy so much a work on a symphonic programme, and a new work at that!

Please accept these comments in appreciation of a truly positive experience. I wish you and the Concerto all success in the Hauptkonzert in Heilbronn and beyond.

With all best greetings,

Dr. Ulrich Enzel


 Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra, “The Orchestra Goes Out With a Musical Bad-Boy” can be heard in its Sibelius version here: