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MP3 Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble - Hendrik Andriessen

This album features rarely recorded Chamber Music of one of Holland''s most important composers of the pre-WW II era.

13 MP3 Songs in this album (57:49) !
Related styles: Classical: Chamber Music, Classical: Contemporary, Instrumental

The musicians playing on this CD are:
Jacobien Rozemond - Violin
Doris Hochscheid - Cello
Frans van Ruth - Piano

The Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble is an ensemble of seasoned musicians sharing a passion for chamber music. In its basic form the ensemble constitutes a piano quartet; however, its programmes incorporate every conceivable duo and trio combination. For instance, the musicians also perform concerts as a piano trio or string trio.
A project featuring music by Frank Bridge and his student Benjamin Britten provided the initial impetus for the ensemble’s creation. The musicians were brought together by their fascination for the transition period between Romanticism and Modernism. Frank Bridge (1879-1941) travelled this path as a composer. The horrors of the First World War made it impossible for him to continue composing pleasant music of an optimistic nature. Thus, he consciously began to seek a new, modern musical idiom.
Drawing on its members’ extensive, combined musical experience, the ensemble bridges the gap between music of this period and earlier or contemporary music and, likewise, the gap between standard repertoire and forgotten or neglected works. This results in striking combinations of familiar masterpieces from Mozart to Dvořàk with music by lesser known figures, ranging from the Romantic era’s Robert Volkmann to the living composer René Samson.
The musicians of the Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble have become highly attuned to each other through years of intensive collaboration, as reflected in their cohesive style of playing. Previously, they also played together in the Leo Smit Ensemble, recording all the chamber music works of Leo Smit and Nico Richter and discovering many other unique compositions dating from the interwar period. They also first encountered Hendrik Andriessen’s superb chamber music at the time.
The ensemble’s string players have developed a wholly unique playing culture. Their diverse backgrounds and individual association with groups such as the Asko Ensemble, Musica ad Rhenum and Amsterdam Sinfonietta add to the fresh insight they bring to their playing style and broad choice of repertoire.
The Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble’s much lauded debut CD featuring music by René Samson (which was awarded a 10 in the Dutch music magazine Luister) has resulted in increased public appreciation for this previously little-known composer. The ensemble has also presented other rarely heard composers in concert, such as Leander Schlegel and Matthijs Vermeulen. In 2008 the ensemble performed works by Willem Jeths and his students in a master and apprentice project.
In view of their fascination with musical encounters, the musicians enjoy opportunities to collaborate with guest artists. These include the oboist Pauline Oostenrijk, clarinettist Harmen de Boer, saxophonist Arno Bornkamp, soprano Valérie Guillorit, violinist Joris van Rijn, violist Francien Schatborn and the mezzo-soprano Wilke te Brummelstroete.

Hendrik Andriessen was born into a veritable dynasty of artists in the Dutch city of Haarlem in 1892. His mother Gezina Vester was a painter; his father Nicolaas was a choir conductor and organist of Saint Joseph’s Church in Haarlem. Hendrik’s brothers Willem and Mari were respectively a concert pianist and sculptor.
Initially, Hendrik opted for a career as a journalist. From 1909 to 1913 he worked for the Nieuwe Haarlemsche Courant and continued to write reviews until 1922. While working for the newspaper, he also studied organ with the Haarlem city organist Louis Robert and succeeded his father as church organist upon his death in 1913. From 1914 Andriessen studied organ with Charles de Pauw and composition with Bernard Zweers at the Amsterdam Conservatoire. However, it was Alphonse Diepenbrock who had the greatest influence on the budding composer’s development; their friendship dated from 1917.
Hendrik Andriessen had a great partiality for French music, thus it comes as no surprise that César Franck’s organ works were a major source of inspiration to him. He also maintained personal ties with composers such as Albert Roussel, Gabriel Pierné and Darius Milhaud. The German composers who most appealed to him were the symphonist Bruckner (‘Bruckner was even greater and more expansive than the city of Vienna was in his day’) and the song composer Hugo Wolf (‘Brahms''s relationship to poetry has always seemed totally sterile to me..., whereas Wolf''s relationship to poetry was a natural, indissoluble union. He was the poet’s musician or, rather, he was poetry’s musician’). Andriessen also frequently performed as a lieder accompanist, in particular with the soprano Mia Peltenburg.

Hendrik Andriessen taught theory at the Amsterdam Conservatoire, and organ, improvisation and Gregorian chant at the Roman Catholic School for Church Music in Utrecht. He also held the position of organist and conductor at Utrecht Cathedral. In 1937 he was appointed director of the Utrecht Conservatoire and teacher of composition at the Amsterdam Conservatoire. During the Second World War Andriessen’s musical activities were severely restricted as a consequence of his refusal to become a member of the Kultuurkamer (Chamber of Culture). He was even interned for a period in the Haaren and St. Michielsgestel camps. Andriessen was director of the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague from 1949 until 1957 and professor of musicology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen from 1952 until 1963. He died in his birthplace Haarlem in 1981. Albert de Klerk, Herman Strategier and Jan Mul were among his most notable students. He is also the father of the composers Louis Andriessen and Jurriaan Andriessen.

In view of Andriessen’s penchant for French music, it is interesting to read about how he regarded this music. In an article on Albert Roussel he wrote the following:
‘When talking about modern French music one frequently mentions the names Debussy, Ravel and Roussel in the same breath. While the work of these masters is united by a classically French character, the exact historical development calls for a further distinction. The difference between the works of Debussy and Roussel is truly vast; it is not determined by the circumstances of their lives, but by their origins, among other things.
After Berlioz and César Franck there is a clear divide in French music between aesthetic types, which is perhaps most notably illustrated by Debussy and Roussel. Debussy wandered through the landscape of the old harpsichordists and Massenet, Liszt and Saint-Saëns. Ravel and Pierné also breathed the same musical atmosphere. It is the cloudless, sunlit landscape that we also recognise from Watteau and the later Impressionists. Roussel, Dukas, Duparc and Chausson inhabited the musical landscape of César Franck, with its darker timbres. The similarity is to be heard in the supremacy of the melody’s poetic power, the freedom of spirit evident in the harmonic sphere and the character of the rhythm, which is closely aligned with the other elements. However, there is a difference with regard to emotional expression. In the case of the latter group of composers, objects external to the soul are accorded little or no space in their works, even in their symphonic poems; whereas, with the first group of composers, it is precisely aesthetic fantasies about the objective life that tend to occupy a significant place in their music. However, all of these masters are distinguished by a noble self-mastery, by their characteristic clarity of thought, by their sense of order and aesthetic attitude.’
In an article on Ravel Andriessen further expounded on this idea:
‘It is clear that there are great stylistic differences between the works of Debussy, Franck and Ravel, to name just these three masters; - their style is dominated by the appreciation of beauty. In effect, they did not compose their works in a state of emotional excitement or intoxication, nor did they squander an excess of tears; they did not overload the music with emotional states, but instead derived the musical truth from the most genuine emotion and fashioned it with the most profound care.’
‘The essence of music never originates from human principles’, he wrote in an article on Bruckner, ‘its essence is notated and the composer is the first to be moved by the beauty that he communicates to others.’

The extent to which Andriessen’s views and tastes were influenced by the musical landscape of Franck and Roussel is particularly apparent in Andriessen’s first published sonata, the sonata for cello and piano from 1926 – a violin sonata and a piano trio from 1915 were never published and a sonatina for viola that was probably composed in 1924 was published posthumously. Incidentally, the fourth movement of this cello sonata displays a particularly close affinity with Fauré, a composer not named by Andriessen in the above quote, yet one he greatly admired. The work was published in Paris in 1928 by Senart, a publisher that also issued works by Sem Dresden, Matthijs Vermeulen, Jan Ingenhoven, Marius Monnikendam and Leo Smit in the 1920s. The work is dedicated to Thomas Canivez, who had earlier given the première performance of Vermeulen’s First Sonata, and among its earliest interpreters was Marix Loevensohn, who gave the first performances of sonatas by Willem Pijper, Henriëtte Bosmans and Piet Ketting.

The other three works featured on this recording all date from the 1930s and are contemporary with the First Symphony (completed in 1930), the exceptionally fine work Trois Pastorales for voice and piano, composed to poems by Arthur Rimbaud (1935), the highly successful Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Johann Kuhnau (1935) and the Second Symphony (1937). All of these works were brought out in 1947 and 1948 by the newly established Documentation Centre for Dutch Music (Donemus), with the exception of the Inventions, which were only published by Donemus in 1960.
The Violin Sonata (1932) is striking in its almost sonatina-like simplicity, when compared to the far more complex Cello Sonata composed six years earlier. An example of this is the unequivocal bitonality of the first movement. This tendency is carried over through the Inventions (1937) and continued in the Piano Trio (1939), although this last work is perhaps somewhat coloured by the dark clouds that were gathering over Europe in those years.

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