The Laefer Saxophone Quartet

  • 12/11/2017
  • 8pm
  • €20
  • National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta

An exciting and dynamic saxophone quartet, the Laefer Quartet formed in 2012 at the Royal College of Music, London. They won several prestigious awards and have performed across the UK. The quartet, with the talented Gozitan saxophonist Philip Attard as one of the members, specialise in performing contemporary classical repertoire and transcriptions of works by classical composers. For the closing concert of this year’s festival, they will be playing works by Mendelsshon, Maslanka, Rivier, Puccini and Lago.

The Laefer Quartet is an exciting and dynamic saxophone quartet who are 2016/17 Park Lane Group Artists, and won the Elias Fawcett Ensemble Award for an Outstanding Ensemble in the 2017 ROSL Competition. Formed in 2012 at the Royal College of Music, London, its components are Amy Green (soprano sax); Philip Attard (alto sax); Rusne Mikiskaite (aldo alto sax) and Stephen Shepherd (baritone sax). They were awarded the 2014 Boconnoc Music Award during their time there, and have performed across the UK at venues, including The Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room, St. James’s Piccadilly, and The Forge.

The quartet is experienced in a variety of genres but specialise in performing contemporary classical repertoire and transcriptions of works by classical composers. Recent performances include three world premières as part of the “Listenphony” concert series, a “Non-classical” debut, and their St. John’s Smith Square debut premièring works by Giles Swayne and Charlotte Harding.

The word ‘Laefer’ (pronounced lay-fer) is Anglo-Saxon for ‘reed’ and ‘sheet metal’.

Felix Mendelssohn – Capriccio, “Four Pieces for String Quartet”, Op. 81. (arr. Trillaud) (7’)

David Maslanka – Recitation Book                 (25’)

  1. Broken Heart: Meditation on the chorale melody Der du bist drei in einigkeit (You who are three in one)
  2. Prelude/Chorale: Meditation on the chorale melody Jesu meine Freude (Jesus my joy)
  3. Ecco, morirò dunque (Look! My Death is Near!) – Carlo Gesualdo (1596)
  4. Meditation on the Gregorian Chant O Salutaris Hostia (O Salvation’s Victim)
  5. Fanfare/Variations on the chorale melody Durch Adams Fall (Through Adam’s fall)


Jean Rivier – Grave et Presto (9’)

Giacomo Puccini – Crisantemi   (arr. J. v.d. Linden) (8’)

Guillermo Lago – Ciudades            (15’)




Adis Ababa

CAPRICCIO, Four pieces for string quartet, Op. 81…… FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-47)

                                                                                                                (Arr. Martin Trillaud)                       

  1. Tema con variazioni (Andante sostenuto) (1847)
  2. Scherzo (Allegro leggero) (1847)
  3. Capriccio (Andante con moto) (1843)
  4. Fuga (A tempo ordinario) .(1827)

Mendelssohn wrote these three of these four pieces between 1843 and his death in 1847.

The last,other was composed much earlier as it was finished on 1 November 1827. These four unconnected pieces have always been grouped together ever since their posthumous publishing by Breitkopf and Härtel in 1850.

RECITATION BOOK …………………………………………DAVID MASLANKA (1943-2017)

  1. Broken Heart: Meditation on J. S. Bach’s chorale melody, BWV 293, Der du bist Drei in Einigkeit (You who are Three in One).
  2. Prelude/Chorale: Meditation on the chorale melody Jesu meine Freude/Jesus my joy. J.S.Bach, BWV 227..
  3. Ecco moirò dunque (Look! My death is near) Carlo Gesualdo (1596).
  4. Meditation on the Gregorian chant O salutaris Hostia (O Salvation’s victim)
  5. Fanfare /Variations on the chorale melody Durch Adams Fall (Through Adam’s fault) J.S. Bach BWV 637.

Maslanka was a prominent composer from the USA who wrote in a wide variety of genres. He lost his wife to cancer in July this year and he followed soon after in August. This work is an original one for saxophone quartet. It was composed for, premiered and first recorded by the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet of Tokyo. Often oOf a sacred nature and used during readings by religious communities and congregations, Maslanka’s Recitation book draws upon various older musical sources. He uses various old variation techniques throughout this work.


GRAVE ET PRESTO……………………………………………….JEAN RIVIER(1896-1987)

This prolific French composer, active for almost 70 years wrote over 200 works in all kinds of genres, including for orchestra, chorus piano and solo instruments. He was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire and among whose his colleagues there was Darius Milhaud. He composed Grave et Presto in 1938 for the Quatuor de Saxophones de Paris.

CRISANTEMI…………………………………………………GIACOMO PUCCINI (1858-1924)

                                                                                                                (Arr. J. v.d. Linden)

This unique piece by Puccini was originally written for string quartet although it is heard more often in arrangements for string orchestra. He said that he composed it in one night as an immediate reaction to the news of the death of Duke Amedeo of Aosta (1845-90). The Duke was the second son of King Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy and thus younger brother of King Umberto I. He was also briefly King of Spain (1870-73), leaving that country which at the time he described as “ungovernable”. Puccini’s elegy to the Duke bears the name of flowers, chrysanthemums, which feature in mourning rituals in certain oriental countries. The two melodic ideas in this music later found their way in Puccini’s opera Manon Lescaut.

The arrangement was made by Johan van der Linden, a leading Dutch saxophonist, composer and arranger.

CIUDADES……………………………………………………….GUILLDERMO LAGO (b. 1960)

  1. Montevideo
  2. Tokyo.
  3. Sarajevo
  4. Addis Ababa

Guillermo Lago is the pseudonym and musical alter ego of Dutch saxophonist and composer Willem van Merwijk. He started using this pseudonym in 2006. His Aurelia Saxophone Quartet is one of the leading such formations with a world-wide reputation. He is very actiove as a teacher both at amateur and professional levels. His evocative Ciudades (Cities) I dates to 2011 and is an on-going project of pieces which are inspired by various cities in all continents.  This evening four of the already composed 6 parts are featured. They are, respectively, the very different capital cities of Uruguay, Japan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ethiopia.


Listen to this dynamic saxophone quartet for the closing event of the Three Palaces Festival.