“When I think of music composed in the Netherlands, I immediately think of Louis Andriessen, from whose work alone I could compile an entire playlist with personal favourites. But I have chosen not to include him. Another big name whom I have decided not to present is Michel van der Aa, simply because his piece Up Close has already been listed several times. I will start with a composer who is not Dutch and, I still can’t believe it, is no longer with us: Wim Henderickx. His musical and human presence as a composition teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory has inspired generations of composers and his music, often performed in the Dutch musical landscape, has enchanted audiences.”
Wim Henderickx – Aquarius dream
The premiere of Wim Henderickx's second symphony Aquarius Dream was one of the most impressive concerts I have ever attended. I had tears falling down my cheeks from the intensity of the sound bath I had just been immersed in. The strength of the piece reminded me of Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps, the carefully designed paths of the soprano through the space, and the mystical approach to the narrative evoked George Crumb's symbolism and depth of concept.
The vibrancy of it all, the tribe-like use of the orchestra members' voices, the explosive rhythmical sections, the subtleness and delicacy of the different textural passages, the ethereal dimension of the electronics, the coloristic use of the soprano's voice, the illusion of the audience sitting underwater by projecting a waving LED light over their heads… It was a whole universe; it was Wim's universe.
Maya Fridman & Maarten van Veen – Nuit
Improvisation is the most instinctive way to compose, and when done in the presence of an audience, the listener can almost grasp the trance-like state of mind of the musicians; it is a magical moment. I attended one of Nuit's concerts, and the dialogue between Maya Fridman and Maarten van Veen was captivating. Their concentration and connection were palpable. Their textures were sublime, intimate, and robust at the same time. It was an enchanting experience. Here is improvisation VIII(A) and VIII(B) from the album NUIT.
Erik Bosgraaf & Jorrit Tamminga & Pierre Boulez – Dialogues
I have heard this CD so many times it will disintegrate. This CD has two parts: one with Pierre Boulez's Dialogue de l'ombre double and the other one, Dialogues, with Jorrit Tamminga and Erik Bosgraaf's version of that piece. Boulez himself gave them carte blanche.
Compositions? Improvisations? The two musicians prefer "comprovisations". Bosgraaf says, and I quote, "We usually write out very little beforehand, sometimes a bit more. We always have a plan of sorts, but the results vary."
Kate Moore – Sad Song
When I listen to Kate Moore’s music it feels as if nature is speaking to me. I perceive her work as very organic and embracing, her compositions create an involving and enchanting atmosphere with a very strong rooted base. It was difficult to choose one out of all her works but I finally have chosen Sad Song because of it’s pureness and mystical feeling. This piece feels honest and deeply earthly.
Richard Ayres – The Garden
Richard Ayres’ music brings me back to my younger self. I find myself listening to his works with the same intensity as when my mother would read me bedtime stories. His realm is so rich, fresh, eclectic, and full of narrative that it completely swallows your attention.
Aspasia Nasopoulou – Morianna
Aspasia's music is intellectuality transformed into sound. Her work has depth, her colours are refined, she has an eye for detail, and allows textures to explore the length of time. It is the kind of music that the more you listen to, the more you get enchanted by.
Yannis Kyriakides – Face
I have great admiration for Kyriakides' work. Every piece I've heard from him is captivating and intriguing and transmits a strong cohesive dramaturgy. The piece I have chosen, Face, is not only a fresh, original, and intriguing composition but also uses the staging as part of the story without which one would miss a part of the puzzle that compounds its concept. Face is a multimedia composition for voice, piano, recorders, live electronics, and video, based on the use of facial emotion recognition software.
Huba de Graaf – The Lamp
Huba de Graaf's compositions and collaborations are strong, authentic, and versatile. The piece I have chosen, The Lamp, is music-wise very different from her previous work Pulchalchiajev, but they have things in common; they both take an insight into human behavior, and they both are a strong marriage between music and theatre.
2020 marked 25 years since the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica fell to the Serbs. Under the watchful eye of Dutchbat, more than 8,000 men and boys were taken away and murdered. Despite all the analyses and reports, the last word has not yet been said on responsibility for the genocide, the largest in Europe since the Holocaust.
In The Lamp, the theatricality is strongly represented by a libretto written by Erik-Ward Geerlings and the strong acting skills of Helmert Woudenberg. De Graaf's composition for The Lamp is cleverly inspired by Dutch patriotic songs which are slowly, painfully, and brilliantly performed by Esther Kuiper (mezzo), Arnout Lems (baritone), and Charlie Bo Meijering (piano).
Calliope Tsoupaki – Calling
Calliope's big intervallic jumps and colours remind me of the wonderful Epirus music played in northwestern Greece, which I really love. Tsoupaki has a very strong sense of time; she captivates you with her generous melodic developments and masterfully explores all the colours of the instruments, gracefully telling you a sonic story. Her music feels very rooted, as if it has always been there. Here is a wonderful interpretation of Calling by Fie Schouten, for whom this piece was written.
Justin Bennett – Aura
I learned to open my ears during my time with the Sonology Electroacoustic Ensemble at The Hague Conservatory. It was there that I developed a taste for sound texture. Among the many inspiring electroacoustic composers I have come across, I must say that Justin Bennett's work is one of my favourites: Aura (2016) is an ambisonic (3D) composition. The Soundcloud file is a stereo reduction.
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