Jan Peter De Graaff

Jan-Peter de Graaff

Concerto no. 5 ‘The Forest in April’

Maya Fridman & Noord Nederlands Orkest

De Nederlandse componist Jan-Peter de Graaff schreef een nieuw celloconcert: ‘The Forest in April’. De relatie tussen solist en orkest gebruikt hij als metafoor voor de relatie tussen de mens en de natuur. De muziek is actief, kleurrijk en gedetailleerd. Intieme momenten klinken naast grote gebaren en heldere klankstapelingen, waarbij solist Maya Fridman alle klankmogelijkheden van haar instrument verkent en ook haar eigen stem inzet.

Erik Satie gebruikte weinig noten om een enorm effect te bereiken. Zijn verstilde pianowerken baanden de weg voor de minimalistische en mystieke stromingen die later zouden volgen. Twee van zijn bekendste werken, de Eerste gnossienne en de Eerste gymnopédie, klinken in nieuwe orkestversies van Anthony Fiumara.

Jan-Peter de Graaff over ‘The Forest in April’

Concerto No. 5 “The Forest in April” was composed between October 2020 and February 2021, commissioned by the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra,

TivoliVredenburg and Muziekgebouw Aan’t IJ, in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The piece can be seen as an internal reflection on the relationship between humanity and nature: action, consequences and mourning. As Maya has a very close relationship to nature, it felt completely natural to me to choose this subject for a piece to tailor around Maya’s performing abilities and the cello as an instrument to express these emotions.

As Maya needed her parts as early as possible, I sent her draft versions of her part before the full piece was completed. This also resulted in her interpretation of the first movement in rehearsal having an effect on the second and third movement, which were still in development at that time.

When orchestrating the piece, everything fell into place, and until this day I consider this work to be one of the most concise and coherent works I have made. Maya’s ability to not only perform the piece so well, but to ‘become’ the piece in a sense (like ‘Method acting’) made the performance extremely colorful and intense. It even inspired the orchestra to perform with as much involvement and enthusiasm as the soloist, resulting in a recording that not only does justice to the notes on paper: it makes the piece live a life on its own, which is the highest aim for a composer to have.

Maya Fridman over ‘The Forest in April’

Everything that one can imagine of music is impossible to put in words. One can try, however. By sharing experiences, finding common ground in the realm of poetry and philosophy, perhaps by imagining nature as it reveals itself through the sounds of the orchestra.

While I waited for The Forest in April to be composed, I continuously tried to envision how it would sound and what kind of story I would become a part of. I was thrilled to discover that some of my guessings came close to the truth, while for the most part the music of The Forest in April exceeded everything I had in my imagination. How different would it be, have I not attended the premiere of Rimpelingen by Jan-Peter de Graaff in 2017 at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek! Rimpelingen (in English: ‘ripples’) made such a profound impression on me, echoing through the following two years until the right moment came. That moment was another concert of Jan-Peter’s music after which I had the courage to ask him to write a concerto for me. The two years that followed were full of many meaningful and fun conversations, listening to music together, being together through.

Some of the most stressful and intense situations, such as the premiere and the days leading up to that moment. I could write a lot about our process together, and how I can relate personally to every single note of these two concertos. But that would be too a long story, and I’m convinced it will change with each new performance. One thing that will not change, however, is my fascination with the music of Jan-Peter, with his gift of capturing the modern world’s complexity in the transparent colors of his instrumentation. Thanks to Jan-Peter I have learned to navigate in that complexity and developed a very personal relationship with it. That would not have been possible without Jan- Peter’s deep trust, which made me able to find and express myself through his music without any reservations. I am indefinitely grateful to him and to everyone who was part of this journey.


Erik Satie / Anthony Fiumara Gnossienne 1 en Gymnopédie 1
Jan-Peter de Graaff Concerto no. 5, ‘The Forest in April’ (wereldpremière)
Michael Nyman Symfonie nr. 2


Noord Nederlands Orkest 
Nicolò Foron dirigent
Maya Fridman cello

    • Radio 4,
    • donderdag 11 maart 2021 om 20:00
    • TivoliVredenburg: Studio, Utrecht
    • zaterdag 13 maart 2021 om 20:30
    • Jan-Peter de Graaff
    • Anthony Fiumara
    • Noord-Nederlands Orkest
    • TRPTK
    • TivoliVredenburg
  • Orkest