Italian Saxophone Quartet headed to Beaver Creek |

Italian Saxophone Quartet headed to Beaver Creek

Kris Sabel
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyThe Italian Saxophone Quartet's program on Wednesday will include everything from Bach and Mozart to Gershwin, Porter and Piazzolla.

Editor’s note: Director’s Corner is a weekly column where Kris Sabel, who is in charge of cultural programming for the Vail Valley Foundation, gives his expert take on shows not to be missed.

“Think you don’t like saxophone quartets? Oh my, think again! A revelation … knocked me out from the first notes,” wrote a critic from the Monterey Peninsula Herald.

My guess is that you haven’t even thought about saxophone quartets, let alone made a judgment as to whether you do or don’t like them. Well, now you have an opportunity to experience and form an educated opinion as the Vilar Center presents the Italian Saxophone Quartet on Wednesday, Jan. 16.

You might ask what inspired us to bring a group like this to the Vilar. And my answer is the same reason I would encourage you to come and check this ensemble out.

Federico Mondelchi, the leader of the quartet, performed here as guest soloist last season in two critically acclaimed concerts with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. He not only stole the show, but he stole the hearts of everyone in the audience. His technique and mastery of the instrument was equally matched by his charm, charisma and passion for music.

Formed in 1982, the quartet is acclaimed by critics worldwide as one of the outstanding ensembles on the international music scene. Soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes produce tones in different registers, but they are related. When heard in unison, the harmonies are uncanny, in the same way that singing sisters can produce uncannily pretty harmonies.

A good point of reference is more mainstream jazz saxophone that you’ve likely heard on the airwaves, such as Kenny G (who performs at the Vilar Center later this year) or Chris Botti (who has performed numerous times in the past). If you like the smooth jazz sound of musicians like these, I feel certain you will appreciate and enjoy the artistry of the Italian Saxophone Quartet.

It’s obvious almost immediately that the “sound” this group produces is very special. The four instruments blend to produce a unique fusion that is both sensuous and rich. The unity and spectrum of sound they produce is awe-inspiring and enables them to play a wide variety of original compositions and saxophone transcriptions with exhilarating bravura.

On Wednesday the quartet will showcase their talents in a varied program from Bach and Mozart to Gershwin, Porter and Piazzolla.

“Mondelci brings a rich, jazzy appeal to Piazzolla’s hauntingly beautiful melodies; he seems to have a real feel for the music’s power and gutsiness, as well as its gentle tenderness,” wrote the New York Times.

If you are concerned this is a concert only for serious classical music lovers, please put those fears aside. This concert will satisfy a varied audience from the ardent classical fan to anyone who loves great music. I hope you will join us for what I’m sure will be a very special concert!

Support Local Journalism