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Andriessen: Nocturnen, Ittrospezione III, Anachronie I, etc

Release Date: 02/22/2007 
Label:  Donemus   Catalog #: 54   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Louis Andriessen
Performer:  Lisette EmminkClaron McFaddenMarjan DamstéGerard Bouwhuis,   ... 
Conductor:  Howard Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Ballet Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

L. ANDRIESSEN Nocturnen. 1 Ittrospezione III (Concept II). 2 Anachronie I. Contra Tempus. Anachronie II 3 Howard Williams, cond; Claron McFadden (sop); 1 Gerard Bouwhuis (pn); 2 Sepp Grotenhuis (pn); 2 Han de Vries,(ob); 3 Read more Netherlands Ballet O DONEMUS 54 (64:01)

The 20th century was a great era for Dutch music, beginning with Alphons Diepenbrock and running through Hendrik Andriessen, Willem Pijper, MatthijsVermeulen, and Jurriaan Andriessen (Hendrik’s son); one could name another dozen, at least, who wrote notable music. Hendrik’s youngest son, Louis Andriessen (b. 1939) has become the best-known Dutch composer in history, not only throughout Europe but also in America, where he has been composer/director of the Tanglewood Music Center’s Festival of Contemporary Music and has had a major opera ( Writing to Vermeer ) produced at Lincoln Center. Countless works have been recorded; ArkivMusic.com lists only 25 compositions—not including these five—but Dutch labels carry many more.

Louis’s fame began with a minimalist masterpiece, De Staat , in 1976, but these works were composed from 1959 to 1969, in the order listed in the head note. He had yet to connect with minimalism and seems to have been trying everything on, searching for his own musical persona. One can hear his growth over a decade, although it may not be apparent at every step of the way. Nocturnen , his first ensemble work, is scored for a chamber orchestra dominated by light percussion, harp, and piano, plus two sopranos, one well hidden in the orchestra, and both limited to wordless instrumental-like tones. The harmony is mostly conventional; a 12-tone row appears but never affects the pleasant wandering of this formally indistinct eight-minute piece. Andriessen wrote three Ittrospezione in the 1960s, and three versions of this one—I don’t know what to make of his odd (mis?)spelling. The instrumentation cited is “for ensemble and two pianos,” but the ensemble is dominated by tenor saxophone and three trombones. Early sections contain some pretty piano music, but the ensemble eventually delivers some post-serial bumps and grinds which, along with a saxophone cadenza of loud disconnected notes, suggest a crude version of the Andriessen-yet-to-be, an adventurous, free-wheeling composer who would employ eight double-bass clarinets in one work.

Anachronie I (“To the memory of Charles Ives”) is a wild collage of everyone else’s music, so artfully concealed as to make identifications impossible. These thickly scored 12 minutes are heavy going, but perhaps Ives would have appreciated the humor behind it. Contra Tempus , an all-but-the-kitchen-sink work that is very much of its time (1968), makes use of everyone else’s theories rather than their music. Five connected movements last a seemingly eternal 18 minutes, ending with the opening chord of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms.

Anachronie II is a virtual oboe concerto dedicated to Han de Vries, opening and closing with a disembodied voice mouthing some German gibberish that we are obviously not meant to understand. A section of pure Poulenc is interrupted by some Darmstadt blatts, which in turn give way to the Pergolesi of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella , employing some of the same tunes. Every section demands an impossible virtuosity, which de Vries delivers with Holliger-like brilliance and an even wider tonal palette. A wild cadenza settles down and then seems to parody the Darmstadt connection. This is a piece for which I don’t want to know the composer’s intentions (a Berio gone mad?); I just want to enjoy it. It’s breathtaking, it’s funny, it’s ridiculous, it’s a gem.

The Netherlands Ballet Orchestra has always given concerts (and made recordings) of avant-garde music, a healthy musical cross-pollination. Except for de Vries, it’s hard to judge how good these performances are. I’ll fall back on past experience that Dutch musicians do everything well.

FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

Nocturnen by Louis Andriessen
Performer:  Lisette Emmink (Soprano), Claron McFadden (Soprano)
Conductor:  Howard Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Ballet Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; Netherlands (Holland 
Concept II by Louis Andriessen
Performer:  Marjan Damsté (Double Bass), Gerard Bouwhuis (Piano), Peter van Bergen (Saxophone),
Sepp Grotenhuis (Piano)
Conductor:  Howard Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Ballet Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; Netherlands (Holland 
Anachronie I to the Memory of Charles Ives, for orchestra by Louis Andriessen
Performer:  Douceline Aleven (Harp), Nicolette Heerema (Organ), Sepp Grotenhuis (Celesta),
Nico De Rooij (Piano), Arthur Cune (Vibraphone)
Conductor:  Howard Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Ballet Orchestra
Period: Modern 
Written: 1966-1967 
Contra Tempus by Louis Andriessen
Performer:  Nico De Rooij (Electric Piano), Gerard Bouwhuis (Piano), Sepp Grotenhuis (Piano),
Tomoko Mukaiyama (Electric Piano)
Conductor:  Howard Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Ballet Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967-1968; Netherlands (Holland 
Anachronie II musique d'ameublement to the Memory of Satie, for oboe & orchestra by Louis Andriessen
Performer:  Han de Vries (Oboe)
Conductor:  Howard Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Ballet Orchestra
Period: Modern 
Written: 1968-1969 

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