Press reviews

"Musical Magic"

Christian Elin and Maruan Sakas surprise in Schwäbisch Hall with a jazzy program.

Bach doesn't just ripple along in a classical way. At least not when pianist Maruan Sakas and saxophonist Christian Elin play it. Cascading beautifully, it rises from its baroque bed in high tempo to fall in a refreshing lightness between the nearly 100 listeners in Schwäbisch Hall's Hospital Church. The duo Elin/Sakas opens its concert evening with the flute sonata in E-flat major (BWV 1031). The two musicians interpret the work with a brisk elegance. Elin plays the soprano saxophone so fanfare-like beautifully that one can sometimes hear the jazz behind it. Johann Sebastian Bach, already known as an improviser in his time, would certainly have enjoyed this spontaneous interpretation.

Almost without a transition, the piece moves into modern times, with the Oboe Sonata by Francis Poulenc. The duo interprets the French composer, who sometimes sounds idiosyncratic in his special blend of Romanticism and modernism, with incredible expressiveness. In the work, which already sounds very much like jazz, the fantastically performing duo seems to want to get closer to the real goal of the evening: their own compositions, to which the rest of the program is dedicated.

"Our compositions are a mix of styles from classical, world music and jazz" explains Maruan Sakas.

(...). A highlight of the evening is the solo piece "Prelude and Hymn" by Christian Elin on the soprano saxophone: an expressive work in an impressive performance. The audience already gives long-lasting applause at the intermission.

Then come the duo's real treasures. "Belle Île" is a dreamlike journey to the French island of the same name, which seems both playful and profound. "Le vent de l'ouest" (West Wind) and "The scent of light" literally fill the Hospital Church with musical magic in their emotional depth and atmospheric density. The magic of the congenial duo is revealed in compressed form in these last two works. Pianist Maruan Sakas makes the grand piano weep and hope at the same time, Christian Elin on the bass clarinet seems to give the dreams the wings that Icarus missed when he was close to the sun. The second half of the concert is simply overwhelming. Poetically sensual world music with a lot of jazz, dreamily beautiful melodies and virtuoso playing on the grand piano, alto flute, bass clarinet and soprano saxophone. And a lot of applause for the two protagonists of the evening.

Andreas Dehme

"Dialogue across the ages"

Suurhusen. This was an exciting concert in which instruments from very different centuries met amicably, competed together, embraced each other, dialogued with each other, got along very well with each other and yet ultimately remained true to their ancestral time and its music. Lucile Boulanger (viola da gamba and lira da gamba) and Christian Elin (bass clarinet and soprano saxophone) undertook such a journey through time. And 180 visitors in the Old Church Suurhusen traveled along enthusiastically - always back and forth between Renaissance and modern, with fruitful encounters in between.

The guest was "Gambelin" - a duo that combines the music of distant centuries and contemporary in a remarkable way and develops something new from it. The program was proof of this. There was early music of the Spanish renaissance composer Diego Ortiz, which was only apparently arrested in its time, because it was interspersed with jazz sequences of the bass clarinet, which were almost subliminally inserted into the original composition. When one reads that Ortiz was already considered an improviser in the 16th century, then it becomes understandable why such "interventions" are not only legitimate, but rather enriching.

On the other hand, Gambelin made clear that the viola da gamba can be used very well to play contemporary music with an original composition by Christian Elin. "La Chiesetta" (The little church) is a composition based on a true incident and presents itself in a strongly pictorial way. Elin composes according to classical measures. His music does not use anything atonal, but creates wide spaces of expression and narrative moments.

Lucile Boulanger (...) showed an immensely subtle interpretation with a movement by Carl Friedrich Abel. Moreover, she clearly enjoyed her excursions into jazz. In any case, she was always beaming during the concert - even when she had the misfortune to break a string, which she then replaced in front of the audience.

As is customary in early music, the seven-stringed viola da gamba and the 13-stringed lira da gamba had to be tuned again and again. Already this procedure sounded so promising that one was not always sure whether the pleasant tones still belonged to the tuning or already to the composition.

Wie schon am Wochenende bei der „Langen Nacht der Gipfelstürmer“ stand eine Uraufführung auf dem Programm. Guido Umberto Sacco schrieb ein Auftragswerk für Gambelin: „I colori di un altrove“ (Die Farben eines Anderswo). Auch dieses Werk nutzte klassische Elemente des Komponierens, wirkte aber alles andere als konservativ und nutzte vielmehr die Möglichkeiten beider Instrumente aus und schuf farbenreiche Effekte. Als Zugabe gab es noch eine Recercada von Ortiz – sehr rhythmisch und in schöner Ausführung.

Ina Wagner

Inimitable sound journey at the Schwetzingen Festival with the Duo Gambelin

The Duo Gambelin does not want to commit themselves, neither to one era, one style nor one conventional ensemble. Thus, at the SWR-2 concert "Grenzgänge Gambelin" within the SWR Festival, a unique sound was created between instruments that can be classified in different centuries. If Lucile Boulanger were to decide, the viola da gamba should not only be used in historical performances but also be allowed to show its beauty in contemporary music. Together with Christian Elin a duo has emerged that obliterates the boundaries between Renaissance and Baroque on the one hand and jazz and contemporary music on the other.

Elin showed himself to be a virtuoso on the bass clarinet and the soprano saxophone on Wednesday evening, but also surprised us with compositions created especially for this ensemble. First, the Gambelin duo showed that this combination of instruments is entirely compatible with the music of the 16th century. Thoughtfully Boulanger opened with a work by Diego Ortiz, in which Elin soon took over the second voice. Loose rhythms sounded in the arrangement of the "Recercada segunda" and let the almost 500-year-old piece shine in a new light.

An initial vigorous round of applause showed high appreciation before the duo jumped forward in time to the present, to Elin’s own composition: "La Chiesetta" for viola da gamba and bass clarinet which was one of several pieces by the performer and composer that enthralled the audience. “The program has evolved over many years, comprising both my compositions and the early music compositions that one tries out. The special part is working out these sounds, for example the pizzicato sounds on the viola da gamba, which can be combined very nicely with a delicate soprano saxophone.” After the playful ornamentation common to Sieur de Sainte-Colombe and to the 17th century in general, the duo slipped seamlessly back into the present with Elin‘s "Sea of Fog". Here, the bright sound of the soprano saxophone played over the constant rhythmic patterns of the viola da gamba, made up a contrasting and complementary pair.

A special highlight of the program was an arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations, from which the duo performed Aria, Variations 1, 13 and 7 with virtuosity. If the melody was known to most classical music connoisseurs, then the new sound created a certain attraction that you only get when you first encounter the masterpiece. While Elin amazed the audience in the next original composition with a technically sophisticated solo on the soprano saxophone, Boulanger disappeared into the artist's room to bring the next protagonist of the evening onto the stage. When Elin first heard the 13-string lira da gamba he was immediately enthusiastic, he explained to the audience. „This instrument is rarely heard solo and even more rarely in combination with the bass clarinet“, he said. In "Líncantesimo del profumo di legno", the bass clarinet seemed to be accompanied by an entire string orchestra.

The experimental composer has already released four CDs with his works. With Boulanger he formed a duo two years ago. As a winner of numerous international competitions, she is considered a virtuoso in her field. In a solo for viola da gamba by the composer Carl Friedrich Abel (1723 – 1787) she showed technical and artistic perfection. With ease, she played the Allegro and with her eyes closed, she felt every note of the Moderato. After a grand joint finale with Elin's "Recercada primeira", the Gambelin duo was happy to add an encore.

Info: The concert will be broadcast again on Thursday, May 25, at 1:05 p.m. on SWR 2.

Viktoria Linzer

Charlotte Schwenke and Christian Elin took us on a journey through time entitled "all’improvviso" at the first concert of the Special Series. In the Pinakothek of the Museum Kurhaus Kleve, in the midst of fascinating works of art by Günther Zins, “Gambelin” played works from a period of more than four centuries on completely different instruments: Schwenke playing the viola da gamba and Elin on soprano saxophone and bass clarinet.

The viol, formerly also known as the knee or lap violin, was probably made in Spain in the 15th century, while the saxophone dates from the mid-19th century - so anyone who paused to think of this combination quickly realised: It actually matches wonderfully, it fits together, it vibrates harmoniously and can be combined into such an enchantingly beautiful sound, as if these two instruments were made for each other. 

So auch die Werke, die natürlich zu einem Großteil in Bearbeitungen zu Gehör kamen. So nahm Diego Ortiz‘ „Recercada primera e seconda“ aus dem 16. Jahrhundert gleich für die Kombination der Klangwelten ein und die Akustik tat ihr Übriges: Etwas hallig, dabei volltönend umfing der Klang die Zuhörer, die darin in der Tat „schwelgen“ konnten. Auch der Großmeister Bach ließ sich in diese Form gießen, so geschehen mit der Aria und drei Variationen aus den Goldberg-Variationen. 

This also applies to the pieces, most of which, of course, were heard as arrangements. Diego Ortiz's “Recercada primera e seconda” from the 16th century portrayed this fine combination of sound worlds and the appropriate acoustics did the rest. Somewhat reverberant, at the same time the sound enveloped the audience, who could indeed “indulge” in it. The great master Bach was also cast in this form, as was the case with the Aria and three variations from the Goldberg Variations. 

The interaction did not result in a dull explosion, but a fine, sparkling rain of music, subtly coordinated in terms of dynamics and sensitively implemented with one another. The tombeau “Les regrets” from “Concerts à deux violes ésgales”, known from the film “The Seventh String” and composed by Sieur de Sainte Colombe in the 17th century, also took part in these soundscapes. 

Christian Elin not only performs, he also composes for unusual combinations, such as "La Chiesetta" and "Recercada primeira" for viol and bass clarinet and "Nebelmeer" for soprano saxophone and viola da gamba. A merger that of course draws on the old, while at the same time implementing modern playing techniques and is located in the here and now, sounding beautiful, jazzy, bluesy and also chilled. 

It was no longer so much about “historical meets modern”, as more about “sound meets sound”. Elin's soprano saxophone solo “prelude and hymn” sounded with a rousing flow and aroused enthusiasm for both playing and musician, as was Tobias Hume's viol solo “Good againe”, performed by Charlotte Schwenke. The little stories about the works that Elin revealed brought the artists and composition closer to the audience and fitted in very well. An exciting sound cosmos, whose highly virtuoso performance in a thoroughly successful event led to minutes of applause and made you want "more of it".

Barbara Mühlenhoff

The saxophonist and clarinetist Christian Elin and the pianist Maruan Sakas mix classical, jazz and world music in their songs.

The constant cooperation and the growing blind understanding between the two musicians is something special in the music scene. If only because a duet between a pianist and a soprano saxophonist and bass clarinettist is rare. In addition, the two maintain this duo as their own jazz formation, which is unusual in this genre that is constantly looking for something new. Almost all jazz musicians belong to many different bands and projects at the same time. Elin and Sakas are more like a rock group, where band membership is mostly exclusive. Unimaginable, for example that one of the Beatles would have played in another band on the side. However, the two musicians do not come from rock, but from classical music, in which they are still involved in parallel to the duo - which is what you can hear in their jazz music which sounds melodic and formal. Their modern classic / jazz mix is becoming more fashionable among the young, mostly classically trained jazz generation, but is still rare.

The constant cooperation and the growing blind understanding between the two musicians is something special in the music scene. If only because a duet between a pianist and a soprano saxophonist and bass clarinettist is rare. In addition, the two maintain this duo as their own jazz formation, which is unusual in this genre that is constantly looking for something new. Almost all jazz musicians belong to many different bands and projects at the same time. Elin and Sakas are more like a rock group, where band membership is mostly exclusive. Unimaginable, for example that one of the Beatles would have played in another band on the side. However, the two musicians do not come from rock, but from classical music, in which they are still involved in parallel to the duo - which is what you can hear in their jazz music which sounds melodic and formal. Their modern classic / jazz mix is becoming more fashionable among the young, mostly classically trained jazz generation, but is still rare.


For six years now, the duo Elin Sakas can be heard more and more often, “although, curiously, the classic organizers book us more often than the jazz clubs or festivals,” says Sakas. You can listen to their development on two albums so far, “Some kind of Blues” from 2017 and the one that was just released in February “Midsummer Night”, their increasingly organic, delightful, melodic and pictorial music, filled with relish, takes a seat between two chairs. “When I write something for us, I don't even have the link between classical and jazz in my head,” explains Elin, “it just happens because it corresponds to my preferences. "

Still slowed down by Corona, the two want to continue the tour to the “Midsummer Night” album, which has only started with one concert, as soon as possible. It will be nice when you can experience the two of them live again, as they are at the forefront of the trend to fill genre trenches and concentrate on what it's about: just good music.

Oliver Hochkeppel

Christian Elin and Maruan Sakas go to great lengths to bring out the beauty of music. Not pure euphony and certainly no sugar-sweet melodies. That would be too banal. Grace and elegance determine their presentation. Intensity in spite of being introverted, spontaneity in spite of a noted basis, balance despite diversity. The duo, saxophone / bass clarinet and piano is a constellation that goes perfectly with each other in terms of sound, but is rarely heard except in jazz. Now they were guests at the KOM Olching. It was the 180th concert in the 15th year of the "Eleven-Eleven" matinee. An appointment which Bavarian television and their music magazine "KlickKlack" did not miss. That the hall was almost completely filled was due to the impression that Elin and Sakas had left in the same place during their previous performances. Now they were in Olching for the fourth time. They themselves spoke of a kind of living room they always like to come to.

Both musicians know each other very well, have been complementing each other in their musical inclinations for five years, recognize the qualities of each other without envy and are passionate instrumentalists who think empathetically and act in solidarity. Their repertoire fully meets the chamber music demands of the Olching series. In addition to their classic based direction, the unpredictability of jazz is misled by their interpretations, oriental expressions and asian composition ideas find their way into their pieces. It is mostly pastel tones and introspective attitudes that are cast into sound. No glamorous standards and no classic quotes. Instead, wonderful instrumental dialogues that come across as an intelligent and entertaining conversation, that are close to an inner exchange of ideas and beliefs, and that exude something worldly.

The entire concert was a distillate of wonderful melodies, based on smooth harmonies and which fascinated in their often polyrhythmic stimulation even without percussionist. Despite all the solo skills of both musicians, it was above all the musical interaction, the interweaving of inspiration and empathy that made this late morning something very special.

Jörg Konrad

The duo Elin-Sakas excels in the k1 with virtuoso chamber jazz and receives frenetic applause

Their own compositions from the programs "Midsummer Night" and "Some Kind of Blues" have unusual titles, so they aim at the non-standard and, as we could witness, they can actually keep their promises.

With characteristic echoes from Arabic music, the compositions "Moorish" were a real pleasure to listen to. While “Moorish” actually describes artistic, decorative Arabic architecture, the composition with this title implements this term onomatopoeic: dark, slow runs on the bass clarinet slowly increase in speed and intensity - with the piano in a congenial accompaniment.

Nach einem Instrumentenwechsel lässt Elin schließlich den strahlenden Klang des Sopransaxophons erblühen. Eine ereignisreiche Klangreise. Das Stück „Hymn angevin“, im Anschluss, mit hörbarem französischem Einschlag, überraschte mit rasanten Rhythmuswechseln. Da musste man einfach zuhören, sich fallenlassen und den Rest vergessen. Genau das scheint auch der Plan des sympathischen Duos: „Juste pour le plaisir“, aus der französischen Übersetzung „einfach zum Vergnügen“ – und genau das bereitete den begeisterten Zuhörern diese Musik.

Wie sich „Dancing with Dolphins“ anhört, kann man sich vorstellen: Ein Auf und Ab, ein Wirbeln und Schweben, mal klar über Wasser, mal verwaschener, also die Unterwasserwelt nachempfindend, und das ganze Vergnügen im immer dichten und harmonischen instrumentalen Austausch. Atemberaubend schön auch eine Hommage an George Gershwin – „Rhythm Changes!“, die auf Gershwins „I got Rhythm“ Bezug nimmt: Das Ausrufezeichen soll, wie Sakas erklärte, auf die rasanten und sich oft verändernden Taktwechsel innerhalb der Komposition verweisen.

Kirsten Benekam

" The cultural association Gifhorn hit the jackpot with the third edition of the format "Klassik im Ring". The gambist Friederike Heumann and the saxophonist Christian Elin used the unusual stage of the arena for a strong musical performance .... The supposedly insurmountable limits of musical styles were blown away by storm. The duo thus opened the listener the transition between epochs and sonic worlds. Symphonic harmonies glided over to baroque melodies, until almost psychedelic jazz variations made a universal listening experience possible. "

Stefan Lohmann

C’est à un concert exceptionnel, un concert de jazz de haut niveau, auquel ont assisté un peu plus de 100 personnes ce samedi 3 mars au cinéma de Vayrac.

Proposé dans le cadre de sa saison d’hiver par le Théâtre de l’Usine en collaboration avec le Festival de jazz de Souillac, le duo Christian Elin, au saxophone et à la clarinette basse, et Maruan Sakas au piano, a enchanté le public venu parfois de loin pour l’écouter.

Une salle pleine aurait été une vraie reconnaissance et une récompense pour les organisateurs mais aussi et surtout pour les musiciens. Le talent de Christian Elin et de Maruan Sakas ne s’arrête pas à la maîtrise quasi parfaite de leurs instruments, mais ils maîtrisent également l’art de la composition et de l’improvisation. Le concert de ce 3 mars a permis aux spectateurs d’entendre les titres qui composent leur dernier CD «Some kind of Blues». Musique classique et jazz se marient naturellement dans des compositions originales vigoureuses et reposantes, les deux musiciens, ou plutôt les deux instruments, le piano et le saxophone ou la clarinette, se répondent, dialoguent, s’isolent pour mieux se retrouver.

La complicité et la virtuosité des deux musiciens ne font qu’accentuer ce sentiment de plénitude musicale ressenti par le public qui n’a pas manqué d’applaudir et de rappeler à plusieurs reprises les deux instrumentistes.

Il convient de remercier Robert Peyrilloux, président de Souillac en jazz, et Véronique Do, directrice déléguée du Théâtre de l’Usine de Saint-Céré, pour cette très belle soirée.

The music series "Eleven-eleven MusikKultur e.V." was launched in February 2005. Since then, 156 exciting matinees have taken place in the concert hall of the Olching KOM. On the last Sunday, 18.02.18, it was time again: this time with the duo of the saxophonist and bass clarinetist Christian Elin and Prof. Maruan Sakas on the piano.

A special matinee of this concert series, this time it was all about jazz and improvisation. However, with a small drop of bitterness at the beginning: Elin, who is a virtuoso not only on the bass clarinet but also on the soprano saxophone, unfortunately had to give up this first wonderful instrument at short notice, as it fell over shortly before the concert and was no longer ready to play. As it is in jazz, the program was changed without further ado, and so the two simply played pieces for piano and soprano saxophone from their repertoire ... and they had it in them! Apart from Marcus Miller's "Straight to the heart" and Jan Garbarek's "Twelve Moons", the focus was primarily on their own compositions. All were performed with verve and animated improvisations. In the process, lyrical conversations developed, characterized by magnificent melodies which captivated the audience, true to the motto of the matinee "Rhythm changes".

Just over a year ago, the two musicians presented their duo CD "Some Kind Of Blues" (published by the label raccanto), which is impressive and reflects what Elin and Sakas are doing live on stage: an inspired conversation between saxophone (bass clarinet) and acoustic piano, without bells and whistles, straight ahead, captivating and absolutely varied. Currently my listening tip for diving and listening for relaxed hours.

Thomas Krebs

The Art of the Duo

The art of musical togetherness is not a modern day invention. The first serious duo in the history of jazz was arranged by Louis Armstrong and the "Weatherbird Rag" was performed as soon as 1928 by Armstrong and the pianist Earl Hines. The direction in which the musical develpment of this small jazz line up would lead, could be heard at the Landsberg Town Theatre. For here not just one, but two duos made a guest appearance, which offered a large tonal spectrum.

The first part was performed by Christian Elin and Maruan Sakas. Christian Elin plays saxophone and bass clarinet. Maruan Sakas is a pianist. Together their lyrical interaction was most entertaining. The voices of the instuments found a language which was both touching and at the same time challenging. It was like a tender enticement of the other person. Sophisticated ballads which filled the room like improvised chamber music. But there were also groovy moments which gave the music wings, so that it began to shine intensively. Of course classical music was the inspiration since references to Chopin and Strawinsky could be recognised. It was the magic of touching sentiments and of soundscapes that open the soul. The aesthetic held the music together, opened doors and ears.

A rare encounter

This year the concert series "ErstKlassik" celebrates its tenth anniversary. A suitably special programme has been arranged for the occasion. David Rattinger and Christian Elins performance has now placed the first exclamation mark. This exceptional bridging of barocque and jazz made all sit up and take notice.

The two musicians are in a class of their own on their respective instruments - the viola da gamba, soprano saxophone and bass clarinet. Under the title of "Barocque meets Jazz" they chanced a crossover and produced a rare encounter of style and variation and presented the audience a "groovy" barocque experience.

Barocque und jazz, viola da gamba and saxophone, tradition and modernity - it seemed as if musically distant worlds had been brought together. The two musicians had no trouble at all in managing the balancing act between groovy jazz and classical music of the 17th and 18th century. "There is a lot of common ground. Our connection is improvisation", Elin told the audience when speaking about the different styles. While they were both studying in Basel, he got to know his partner Rattinger who plays the viola da gamba, which looks like a cello but belongs to the guitar family - like no other. Diego Ortiz ("Recercada"), Mozart, Bach or Piazolla: rich in variety, changing between accompaniment and solo functions, with catchy flows and sparkling ease, this unusual combination made this evening so unusual and charming for confirmed classic fans.

Elin, who was awarded the Bavarian Art Sponsorship Award in 2013, impressed the audience as a composer with his own works, La Chiesetta and Recercarda Primeira – which was modelled on the 16 measures harmonic pattern of Ortiz - and his breathtaking solo "Cycles" left a lasting impression just as Rattingers solos (Les voix humaines, A Soldiers Resolution) on the historical strings of his gamba.

The blues is a musical form with which one can communicate worldwide. It is also a feeling that, alternating between wit and melancholy, drives people on. The duo of the Augsburg clarinettist and saxophonist Christian Elin with the Erlangen pianist Maruan Sakas plays with this ambiguity, wanders into chamber music, oriental-tinged spheres and tells light as well as pathetic, slightly sad stories.

The music of “Some Kind of Blues” is therefore a diary of two closely communicating partners, with melodic subtlety and a great sense for tonal dramaturgy.

Ralf Dombrowski

The hall of the Evangelical Church of the Holy Cross was once again filled with the sounds of Bach’s music - but this time a new tone mingled with the musical events. In the concert of the Philharmonic Society there were well-known works to be heard with slight to drastic instrumental changes: the saxophone and vibraphone played a major role as a soloist. The enthusiastic audience could hear, however, that no sacrilege was taking place.

In the oboe concerto in F major BWV 1053, the internationally recognized saxophonist and composer Christian Elin from Augsburg provided equally new, but somehow familiar tones. The soprano saxophone even seemed not at all dissimilar to the historically baroque sound of delicate Bach trumpets. Elin's smooth and powerful phrasing playing was integrated in the modelling of the weave harmoniously into the reduced sounding body of the strings - two violins, one viola, one cello, and one double bass. (...)

Manfred Engelhardt

Christian Elin and Jakob Rattinger make a highlight with "Barock meets Jazz" in Dinkelscherben

Just the title of the programme alone "Barock meets Jazz" raised expectations in the audience at the Rathaus Concert in Dinkelscherben. The two musicians, Christian Elin and Jakob Rattinger change between music worlds, from Renaissance and Baroque music to contemporary music and even introduced some of their own compositions. With their extraordinary instruments these two highly gifted young musicians proved that with ideas, creativity and musical empathy, the differences between tradition and modern spirit can be overcome and brought into harmony. . (...)

The two musicians bridged the gap between baroque and jazz with enthusiasm and technical mastery and in doing so they created their own timeless voice.

(...) The artists guided though the programme in a humorous way and not only gave insight as to the construction and functions of their instruments but also tips about the compositions. The opinion of the audience was unanimous, that this concert was one of the highlights of this years Rathaus Concerts. The audience expressed not only their admiration but also great respect for exceptional musical achievement with exceedingly rapturous applause.

Manfred Miller

Creative cross-border commuters
Christian Elin and Maruan Sakas alternate between classical and jazz

The visitors in the concert hall of the Leopold Mozart Center experienced a daring but successful combination of the most varied of compositional styles. The Tonkünstlerverband Augsburg-Schwaben had invited two renowned musicians, Christian Elin (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet) and Maruan Sakas (piano), who confronted their transcribed versions of important sonatas of wind music with their own poetic, jazz-like compositions. That the question of legitimacy arises for a saxophone-piano rendition of Bach's E-flat major sonata, which originally featured a flute and a cembalo, is conclusive. However, this question was quickly forgotten, because the saxophonist's cantable legato playing, especially in the siciliano, the dynamic, often echo-like differentiation, the pianist's extremely lively, lively leggiero were convincing. And if there is a literature that can sound valid on almost any instrument, then it is the music of Bach that has an effect on it like a possible retrospective from today. The artists also presented Poulenc's sonata authentically - originally for oboe. Elin and Sakas conveyed the mourning to the audience in the corner movements, shining in between in a toccata-like scherzo. Whenever these sonatas introduced the two halves of the concert, the program was filled with original compositions by the two performers. Elin's “Hymne angevine” turned out to be a furious symphonic duo. Here echoes of Scriabin, Prokofiev, pop, samba and jazz come together. This actually risky interweaving of different styles and composition techniques - in the joint work “Juste pour le plaisir” once again varied enormously and evident in the overall program design - succeeded, above all through the structural quality of the compositions, through a first-class, well-coordinated, professional Duo, who acted virtuously in a strikingly coherent interaction, personally moderated and artistically fascinated.

Stephan Kaller

"Highlight in the Art of Duo Playing"

Right from the first track of the CD, "En Route", Elin elates the listener with his flexible transition from bass clarinet to soprano sax. In unison with the pianist he introduces the theme and captivates the listener with improvisations in which the excitement and anticipation before a journey can be sensed. “Un pas jusqu’au seuil”, is a further highlight in the art of duo playing, in which each artist in turn opens the festive sounding piece with a solo, until they join together playing the ballad-like theme. The melodic richness which the musicians create in their improvisations never sounds calculated, but takes place as naturally as breathing. With the delicate sound impressions of "The Scent of Light" Christian Elin and Maruan Sakas bring their gorgeous recording "Some Kind of Blues" to an end.

Gert Filtgen

Eine Sternstunde neuerer und zeitgenössischer Kammermusik

Franz Lichtenstern called it "One of the most high-contrast concerts, we have ever had here and one of the finest we have ever heard here". Regular visitors to the series of chamber music performances in the library hall would agree, following an evening of accomplished musical enjoyment. What was offered to the totally enthusiastic audience on this Sunday evening under the title of "RRRRRRR... Reger" was not simply a further highlight in this high class concert series, but truly one of its magic moments.

Diversity stood as the implied main idea for this programme: with regard both to the emotionally very differently laid out pieces as well as to the composers, beginning with Max Reger whose 100th death date was in May of last year, and Anton Webern who although only ten years younger, belonged to a new era, as well as finally Mauricio Kagel with his five small jazz compositions "Rrrrrr" from the early 1980's. Before that however, there was contemporary music, beginning with "Off Pist" for soprano saxophone and cello by Svante Henryson, almost a humoresque, coined by the oscillation of the two voices constantly changing direction in their mutual reference field - carried out at a furious rate as a cheerful, deliberate confusion with restlessly changing between a - with, toward, against and behind one another - of the two instruments.

Christian Elin, born 1976 in Munich, brought along three of his own pieces. He brought new sounds to the old baroque hall not only as a composer with the debut performance of his piece "Recercada Primeira" for bass clarinet and cello but beforehand with his saxophone.

The unifying fastener of the wide fan of musical impressions was the constantly sensitive and highly musical playing of Franz Lichtenstern on the cello alongside his colleagues of the Orchestra of the State Theatre at Gärtnerplatz, Katja Lämmermann and Ludwig Hahn, violin, as well as Dorothea Galler, viola strengthened by the pianist Kazue Weber-Tsuzuki as well as Rolf Weber on clarinet and Christian Elin on saxophone and bass clarinet.

The six musicians mastered all the technical subtleties as if they were no more than simple handicraft, the extremely intricate and bizarrely awkward rhythms in Anton Weberns Quartett for violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone and piano, the no less difficult to intone abrasive sounds in Mauricio Kagels closely knitted whole tone and half tone intervals, which can continue for several beats and high speed runs, which could almost break fingers, giving the impression that this was no more than the basis of the actual challenge, which was to lend each composition adequate artistic expression, although they are so different in style and character.

A classically trained violinist who has always played jazz and a saxophonist who besides jazz has always tended toward the classical approach to playing could only be helpful in this endeavour: Ludwig Hahn extended the sound spectrum with his sophisticated, colourful playing not only in Regers Clarinet Quartett but also in the subsequent Quartett by Anton Webern, whilst Christian Elins small duo compositions, "Cycles Part II", "Recercada Primeira" and "MAY" found their ideal performers with himself as an instrumentalist first in collaboration with Rolf Weber on clarinet, then with Franz Lichtenstern and finally with the pianist Kazue Weber-Tsuzuki.

This Sunday evenings cleverly compiled programme with works from the - still - tonal Max Reger, at least reminiscent of late romanticism, through Anton Webern and Mauricio Kagel to musicians and composers working freely beyond any genre borders such as Svante Henryson and Christian Elin portrayed the constantly accelerating and music historically thrilling development of the last hundred years and shows us in a comprehensible way, that "dissolution"means not only loss of the familiar, but also a chance for new concepts.

Lengthy applause, without hoping to force an encore - an exceptional gesture of appreciation from the audience who acknowledged an equally exceptional concert experience in an impressive manner.

Minka Ruile

Suivait une création mondiale d’une œuvre de 10’ « Cri muet », pour orchestre, chœur et saxophone du compositeur allemand Enjott Schneider, – label « nouvelle Europe »oblige et c’est tant mieux – par ailleurs président de l’équivalent de la SACEM allemande. Il s’agit sans doute de la première œuvre écrite en mémoire aux victimes des attentats parisiens de novembre 2015. Une belle œuvre, touchante, avec de belles interventions du soliste. Lequel a donné en bis une de ses compositions. Christian Elin se produit notamment avec les orchestres Munichois ; et pour la projection sonore, on était gâtés avec son bis! Sa composition et son interprétation étaient extraordinaires, une sorte de longue procession à la fois répétitive et polyphonique, on aurait dit une sorte de chaman!

Thierry Vagne

"If the Chamber Philharmonic Frankfurt are to play, you can always expect something special. After all, they are known to be an orchestra who are keen to tread new paths, and to present classical music in unusual places and in an unusual way. The audience in St. Bardo Church Petterweil were delighted with the concert animal musical (tierisch musikalisch). The programme included Symphony Opus 3 by Benjamin Britten, the composition "Where the bee dances" by Michael Nyman and the Symphony No. 83 in G minor by Joseph Haydn with the subtitle "The hen, the bear, the miracle." Conductor was Noam Zur. The cherry on top of this concert turned out to be the playing of the soprano saxophonist and composer Christian Elin. He has already played in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Berlin Konzerthaus and in Paris. Now together with the Frankfurt Chamber Philharmonic, he has rehearsed the piece "Where the Bee Dances" by the contemporary composer and film score writer Michael Nyman ("The Piano"). The orchestra and the soloist on the soprano saxophone delivered a rousing piece of music. The musicians played with such great intensity and tension that one could almost hear the bees dancing, wild and intense..."

Anne-Rose Dostalek

"How can anyone find themselves with music? How do composers develop their own unique style? For his new CD saxophonist and composer Christian Elin has put together his own music and eight pieces of colleagues. Congenially accompanied by artists such as the pianist Anna D’Errico, Elin produces a warm tone and a lively ductus: Many roads lead to oneself. In "Gate" by Graham Fitkin this path sounds minimalist and full of energy. Peter Michael Hamels "Anverwandlungen" ("Assimilations") evoke worlds of gamelan and ragas. Manfred Stahnkes computer assisted "khorsid ziba" comes as an archaic oriental coloured "showpiece" and then Christian Elin´s jazz inspired composition "May" sounds simply bewitching."

Dagmar Zurek

"Unique was Christian Elin's solo in front of the basilican altar. Both auditorium and listener were equally captured by his "Prelude and Hymn" which he composed two years ago. One felt oneself reminded of a violin solo sonata of J.S. Bach or a Claude Debussy prelude when the saxophonist weaved his wonderful garlands pulsating in the nave of the basilica, created echo effects and heightened himself ethereally and with round, crystal clear sound."

Gernot Walter

"The dark time of year is said to be the time for contemplation (and all sorts of other phrases). However, one can take time to reflect just as well in mid-Summer or late Spring, there's no need for grey skies. Sometimes all it takes is the right CD. And here it is. "Streaming" is the name of the opus by Christian Elin. ... What makes "Streaming" so exceptional is not any famous supporting musicians, but rather that Elin concentrates solely on himself. That means: solo saxophone. Elin betook himself with his instruments - a soprano, an alto and a tenor saxophone, to St. Antons Church in Augsburg where nearly everything was recorded. Quiescent pieces, such as "Your song within me", which is in two voices (and therefore recorded in a studio) were the result, absolutely winter-compliant pieces such as "Prayer and Fulfillment" or "In Silence" - and sunny pieces, such as "Prelude and Hymn" which has many dance elements. The title piece "Streaming" sounds just as the name implies: like a happy, streaming flow of water. Elin follows it from its source to its estuary, as it were. Fair and beautiful."

Bert Strebe

"Subsequently Christian Elin provided an exceptional sound experience, by playing the solo part in a concert for saxophone and orchestra by Alexander Glasunow, which is rarely heard in our concert halls. By varying the harmonies from velvety softness to shining metal, he showed his instrument to best advantage".

"The performance was in every respect an exceptional and unprecedented event. In the solo pieces Christian Elin presented himself as a consummate master of his instrument: all colours and tones, all skills and tricks, he seems to have them all at his disposal.... Summa summarum: A splendid evening with many new aural experiences!"

Christian Nees

"Convincing in both classical and avant garde articulation - Christian Elin is a master of the saxophone. As guest of the musicians association, he gave a performance at the Barfuesser church. His solo performance "new_art_sax" with works for saxophone and electronics was a small stroke of genius"

Eric Z. Eriksson

"The colourful finale was all the more exciting: ...The gleaming Far Eastern complexion..... as well as the microtonal instability of the soprano saxophone solo Mysterious Morning III by Fuminori Tanada created captivating opposing worlds. Once again the musicians astounded - above all the pianist Jan Philip Schulze and saxophonist Christian Elin: The Klangaktions were always an artists workshop as well"

Marco Frei

"The audience was deeply moved by Giya Kanchelis "Night Prayers". A soprano saxophone (Christian Elin), modulating in masterful intensity and frequently escalading to shrill adventures was linked to softly sung, distant sounding litanies on tape - and all that across a spherical bed of strings. A dramatic tone language with minimalistic sparingness of tones."

Martha Agethen

"Music by Webern, Nicolaus A. Huber, the American modernist Charles Wuorinen and his avant garde countryman, John Cage resounded just as accomplishedly, well outlined with the necessary precise intonation and in well-balanced ensemble sound as the highly complex "Quartett No.1" by Stefan Wolpe, composed shortly after 1950 and the even younger "Unfinished" for flute (Karoline Schulz), piccolo trumpet (Nenad Markovic) and alto saxophone (Christian Elin) by Vykintas Baltakas, born in 1972. The musicians played the piece, which appeared to be perpetually fragmentated with its short dialogue interjections, on the roam, as it were, along a row of some 20 music stands. The musical gesticulations, their continuous pacing up and down, sudden stops and a apparently random exchange of concert playing in the best regions of the instruments caused direct body language by the players, which concealed intentional comedy as well."

Achim Heidenreich



Press images

Photos may only be used for press purposes as part of reporting on Christian Elin. In the case of publication, the photographer must be given as the source of the image.

(c) Thomas Radlwimmer
(c) Eckhart Matthäus
(c) Eckhart Matthäus
(c) Laurent Bugnet


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