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What’s New with Louis Andriessen?

(June 2014)

Premieres and a new release keep the composer busy in his 75th year

Coming off the heels of a widely successful festival in Washington, DC, Louis Andriessen’s 75th birthday year continues with world and regional premieres. The composer’s new work, Tapdance, a percussion concerto written for Colin Currie, was premiered last month by the Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble, conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to great acclaim. Andriessen’s large-scale orchestral work, Mysteriën (premiered in 2013), also received its North American premiere in May by Esprit Orchestra, under the baton of Alex Pauk, part of the 21C Music Festival at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory. On June 3, the US premiere of The nine symphonies of Beethoven took place at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina.

In addition, a new CD/DVD set of Andriessen’s Grawemeyer Award-winning work, La Commedia, has just been released by Nonesuch Records. Directed by Hal Hartley, this Dutch National Opera production features the Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble, led by Reinbert de Leeuw, with vocal soloists Claron McFadden, Cristina Zavalloni, Jeroen Willems, and Marcel Beekman. For more information, click here.

Reviews from the world premiere of Tapdance:

"The most remarkable thing about Louis Andriessen’s newest commission for the ZaterdagMatinee (in honor of his 75th birthday on June 6th) is the old fashioned Romantic way in which a tragic undertone is brought to prominence. Tapdance is a melancholic look back at the past with its opening movement nostalgically recalling ballroom dancing of the 1930s followed by the tap dance craze that followed. The 3rd movement is an eerie recollection of the slow jazz-blues movement of the 1950s and ’60s with a specific homage to the music of Horace Silver... In the finale, Andriessen is at his mind-boggling best with strong colors from the saxophone section and the irrepressible bass guitar and piano combination. Its tight, almost merciless tirade gradually gives way to a melting, Romantic Mahleresque episode which is something totally new in Andriessen’s compositional style."
Het Parool

"Commissioned by the ZaterdagMatinee and written for percussionist Colin Currie, Tapdance finds Louis Andriessen in subdued mode. Simulated ‘tapdance’ sounds with a steadfast marimba part and an austere single timpanum allow us to cautiously enter the music’s sphere, performed by the Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble with added bass guitar. The jazzy lines and playful motives finally give way to a stylishly written but wistful end to the work."

"Composer Louis Andriessen can look back with pleasure at the impressive premiere of Tapdance, written for his upcoming 75th birthday on June 6th. The Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble was augmented for the occasion with bass guitar, a saxophone section and drumkit. British percussionist Colin Currie enters the stage without physical dance pyrotechnics but suggests tap sounds with sticks and thimbles on a wooden plank. The element of dance is important but is only a thin covering to mask the nearby looming descent... It becomes immediately clear to the listener that the 15-minute piece is about more than performance virtuosity. Traversing the introduction from pianists Pauline Post and Gerard Bouwhuis are delicate moments for the woodwinds and harp that culminate in an almost primal scream."
—De Volkskrant

Photo by Francesca Patella

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