Johann Sebastian Bach, greatest composer of all time. He who wants to understand classical music history just a tiny bit, starts with him. So that’s what this saxophonist did. Raaf Hekkema, having been taught by masters of the baroque music such as Frans Brüggen, Sigiswald Kuijken and Jan-Willem de Vriend, created his own versions of the solo partitas.

Johann Sebastian Bach Partitas 1,2 & 3, BWV 1002, 1004 & 1006

In 2007 Raaf Hekkema received the ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of the Year Award for his cd Paganini Caprices for Saxophone during a music gala broadcast live on German tv. Ever since, he has performed the Caprices on many occasions. In this program different sorts of virtuosity can be heard. For instance, a three-part fuge by Johann Sebastian Bach on one melody instrument! The imaginative Caprices of organist Karg-Elert are totally different from those of Paganini, and Frenchman Christian Lauba created a virtuosic pastiche on the boogie-woogie.

Nicoló Paganini Caprices Op. 1
Sigfrid Karg-Elert Capricen
Johann Sebastian Bach Prelude & Fuge from WTK I BWV 847
Tristan Keuris Canzone
Christian Lauba Steady study on the boogie

It is said that no instrument can sound as much like the human voice as can the saxophone. Here the saxophone is the story teller: tales from antiquity, of a Japanese samurai or adventures in Africa.

Claude Debussy Syrinx
Benjamin Britten Six Metamophoses after Ovid
Ryo Noda Maï
Christian Lauba Balafon, Savane, Jungle
Jacob TV The Garden of Love

Raaf Hekkema, saxophone & Hans Eijsackers, piano
Eijsackers and Hekkema enter the ring for a battle. Subject: Paganini’s insanely hard Caprices – last battleground for many. The weapons: a piano and a saxophone. Before the break, the heat slowly rises in works by Paganini and his admirers Franz Liszt and the Russian Grigory Kalinkovitch, after the break all hell breaks loose in an alternating clash of arms.

Nicoló Paganini Sonata
Nicoló Paganini Duo merveille
Nicoló Paganini Caprices in versions for saxophone and/or piano by Schumann, Liszt, Hekkema, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Szymanowski
Franz Liszt La Campanella
Grigory Kalinkovitch Concert-Capriccio after Paganini

Raaf Hekkema, saxophone & Hans Eijsackers, piano
The originally Belgian saxophone is often associated with jazz. In this program for once we are not going to avoid this, and give way to the enormous development saxophone playing ‘across the big pond’ has had in the twentieth century. Perhaps the most compelling twentieth-century sonata for example, was written by the brilliant American William Albright, once a student of Olivier Messiaen. Jazz and blues influences can be heard and we warm ourselves on South-American warmth.

Jean Françaix Cinq danses exotiques
Adolf Busch Nocturne on a negro spiritual
George Gershwin Songs
Astor Piazzolla Oblivión

William Albright Sonata
Heitor Villa-Lobos Fantasia
Darius Milhaud Scaramouche

Raaf Hekkema, saxophone & Hans Eijsackers, piano
A portrait of France and what we associate with the French: love. François Couperin, contemporary of Bach and generally recognized as the greatest among French baroque composers, wrote a musical essay on love. Closing piece is César Francks monumental ode to the relationship between a man and a woman, his Sonata in A.

François Couperin Ritratto del amore
César Franck Prelude, fugue et variation
Paule Maurice Tableaux de Provence
Maurice Ravel Sonate Posthume
César Franck Sonate

Raaf Hekkema, saxophone & Ivo Janssen, piano
Bach – the alpha and omega of classical music. Where It All Begins. But Bach too had different faces, as this program shows. Looking back on the 17th century in his capricious and vital toccatas, his sonata in E flat is a curtsy to the Italian music culture. Also dance forms were in grateful hands with him, as prove his many French suites and -partitas, of which here a classic can be heard; the iconic chaconne, in a virtuosic arrangement for saxophone. Concluding piece is de grand sonata from Das Musikalisches Opfer, one of the three great works for keyboard (the other two are the Goldberg Variations and Die Kunst der Fuge). Ivo Janssen has recorded all Bach’s works for keyboard on his monumental collection of cds. Raaf Hekkema, having been taught by Bach masters such as Frans Brüggen, Sigiswald Kuijken and Jan-Willem de Vriend, has been playing Bach’s music in a number of constellations and presented his cd with Bach’s solo partitas in 2014.

Sonate in E flat BWV 1017
Toccata in D BWV 912 (piano solo)
(/Gounod) Ave Maria
Chaconne from Partita II BWV 1004 (saxophone solo)
Sonate from Das Musikalisches Opfer BWV 1079


Photo: Marco Borggreve