CONTEMPORARY PIANO MUSIC BY DUTCH COMPOSERS
ANGELA TOSHEVA, piano
PRODUCER: ORANGE FACTORY psycho acoustic arts, Sofia
Angela Tosheva’s premiere recording of music by contemporary Dutch composers includes some of the most significant and emblematic works of the contemporary piano repertoire. Listeners are sure to relish the complex beauty of a unique and deeply subjective art interlaced with the substance of our time. Pianist Ton Hartsuiker has compared Dutch music to the Sleeping Beauty, awakened from a long sleep lasting almost three and a half centuries. Throughout this extended period of musical inactivity, the reputation of Dutch music rested largely on the names Josquin Des Pres, Obrecht, Orlando di Lasso, Ockeghem and Sveelinck. Over the last several decades, however, Dutch music has witnessed a renaissance. This has earned it a place of distinction within the world’s music avant-garde.
Roderik de Man (b. 1941) is a central figure of the Dutch avant-garde. A gifted and intuitive artist, he creates music that is powerful, strange, and immensely attractive. De Man is a refined master of the interactive symbiosis between acoustic instruments and electronic sound constructions. Indeed, he creates a world of moving acoustic orgies with an extremely developed yet spontaneous sense of proportion. Ivory Landscape was composed for the Indonesian pianist, Ananda Sukarlan. Three chord-laths are used to play large chords which exceed the reach of the hands of the pianist and make it possible to press down the chosen keys with equal strength. This results in monumental sounding chords. The laths are weighed down by lead weights, thus sustaining the depressed chord, in much the same way as a sustain pedal. The piece is an exploration of pianistic possibilities, often making use of polyrhythm and fast repetitions. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, an auxochrome is a group of atoms and electrons forming part of an organic molecule and modifying the absorption of light by an adjacent chromophore so as to intensify and alter the color of the substance. A combination of an auxochrome with a chromophore creates an electron system that absorbs a greater amount of light than the chromophore alone, and the light is of a longer wavelength. As a result, the color is more intense and has a deeper shade. “To me using electronic means in combination with live instruments is like putting the instrumental sounds which I use as basic material under a microscope and exploring regions which otherwise would not be audible. By bringing these properties to the surface a whole new world emerges, which to me has a strong audible relationship with the original sounds. I try to use the best of both worlds, letting the instrument and electronic part compliment each other in equally important parts. In short, the piano and electronics are as auxochromes to each other, one enhancing and intensifying the other.”
Ton de Leeuw (1926-1996) is a unique phenomenon to European music. Working during the apogee of the European avant-garde, his artistic intuition has led him astray of dominant trends such as serial techniques, aleatorics and sonorism. A connoisseur and zealous admirer of Eastern music and thought, de Leeuw constructs his music idioms upon its exotic sounds and unique philosophies. Indeed, his compositional starting point is the motto of “Les Adieux” (“Farewells”) of Vishnu Purana, the sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism: “Sounds exist only as form for those who perceive sound as form.” De Leeuw’s style traverses several aesthetics, beginning with the pseudo mystical aesthetic of his teacher, Messiaen, then moving into micro tonality, electronics, gamelan and sonoristics. Taken as a whole, his output clearly demonstrates how each of his creative periods served as an end to the previous one and an experimental field for the next. De Leeuw was a great friend of Bulgaria and a connoisseur of its musical heritage. Coincidentally, few people here recognized him as the composer he is, but meeting him during his master classes in composition in Bulgaria remains an unforgettable experience for every one of us who knew him.
Ton Bruynèl (1934-1998) is a pioneer of Dutch electronic music, masterly combining visual, poetic and sound principles. In spite of the individualistic character of his music, he loves working with other artists from different spheres, creating co-projects with architects, singers, poets. He participates in many festivals and, together with Roderik de Man is the winner of the prize for electronic music in Bourges. His final work, Brouillard (Fog) for piano and electronics, seems written in a single breath. The perception of time disappears, replaced by an almost cinematic experience of the instant within which all life flows. This is truly music on the edge, which straddles the divide between this world and the world beyond. With virtually no dynamic use of the so-called “means of expression,” two static textures intertwine in space and reveal, with enigmatic language, something that possesses, fascinates and shakes us.
Ton de Kruyf (b. 1937) attended several Darmstadt summer courses and studied composition with Wolfgang Fortner. Aside from a piano piece for four hands, the Sgrafitti cycle, written in serial techniques, is his only piano work. This piece presents an interesting use of slightly depressed tonal groups, above which serially conceived figurations produce harmonic effects that emerge from “out of nowhere”.
Klaas de Vries (b. 1944), a student of Otto Ketting and Milko Kelemen, is teaching composition at the conservatory in Rotterdam. He is one of the founders of the “Rotterdam School” and has twice received the “Matthijs Vermeulen Prize”.
American minimalism is the most obvious and conscious model for Toccata Americana and Echo. The title of the first piece is sufficiently allusive. It illustrates a comprehensive compositional technique: the tonal groups are continually varied and evolve slowly. Echo recalls the Toccata, due to the continuous motion, which is now slowed down considerably. Various tonal fields embrace the twelve tone scale, flowing uninterruptedly next to and above each other.
This disc is the result of a practice, begun in 2000, in the master classes of Angela Tosheva. Participants were encouraged to play modern pieces together with standard repertoire. This was stimulated by specially awarded grants. Over time, several wonderful things happened: Young Bulgarian musicians discovered an inspiring world of sounds, thus broadening their musical horizons and enriching their repertoire. The audience, too, was exposed to new sounds and aesthetic experiences, as it was at these concerts that most of the Dutch pieces had their Bulgarian premiere. Thus was heard the piano music of Daniel Ruynemann, Wolfgand Wijdeweld, Teo Loevendie, Peter Schat, Ivo van Emmerick, Eduard Escher, Peter-Jan Wagemans, Tristan Keuris, Enrique Raxach, Daan Manneke, Robert Zuidam, Joep Sreaesser and Ton de Leeuw.