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Daan van Aalst

New Year! 2014-2015

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Dear Friends,

The year 2014 ends today, which gives me the opportunity to look back on many inspiring projects. It is also the moment to look forward to the coming year.

The year 2014 was a year of re-invention, for musicians, musical organizations and record labels. Facing the changing market and the big step towards the digital domain, many people in the cultural sector felt that change was needed. In some cases this change was forced, leaving great musicians without work or in an insecure situation. Major record labels turned into artist managements, government support is less common and the audience tries to find its way in a huge digital landscape, filled with music and art. Where to begin…

All changes have their positive and negative consequences. On the negative side we’re facing commercial trouble and it is very difficult to relate this to artistic matters. Musicians grow up with music and study many years to reach a professional level. The amount of artistic energy that goes into this process can hardly be measured in commercial values. For that reason a situation of change and less structure can be difficult for those who live for the music. Some great musicians even lost their job in an orchestra or the whole orchestra disappeared… However, very slowly a positive sign of these changes is appearing. Since it is essential for artists to set up their own initiatives, the link between the artists and their audience has become very short now. For them who find this an exaggerated positive view on the situation I can be very short. It’s not a dream, it’s not a romantic scenario, it’s simply very hard work but what I want to say is that there is more room for personal initiative and that’s a positive thing.

I was already involved in some great examples of personal initiative in the past year. Rian de Waal left us his book and recordings of ‘Metamorphoses, the art of the virtuoso piano transcription’. Pieter Wispelwey delivered his ROCOCO disc, filled with exciting (Neo) Rococo music. Klaartje van Veldhoven with her ‘Songs of Clarity’ combined the worlds of Byrd and Purcell with the Amstel Saxophone Quartet. I also felt the need for personal initiative and I’ve set up a new record label called Navis Classics. The label is a platform for musicians who want to display their ideas about the music they play. You can say that the label is a truly artist based label. We started with the Zemtsov Viola Quartet and by the end of the year Naum Grubert released the first of a series of piano recordings. Read more about it in the blog posts below. For the coming year the label will continue with recordings by cellist Joachim Eijlander and the sparkling violin/piano duo Noé Inui and Vassilis Varvaresos. And there is more to come but that’s a little secret…

All in all, I feel blessed to be involved in these projects. I will continue telling the story of all these great musicians, through the label and in independent projects for musicians and other labels. The story must be told, let’s not wait but just do it! What I feel is that the market is changed but both artists and the audience expect the highest quality. This is good news and very motivating to strive for the highest quality in music making and recording techniques. Time will tell if the commercial side of the new structure will allow us, musicians and labels, to maintain this quality. I just keep in mind that this is actually what we all want, so let’s keep the good spirit and focus on what we like; Good Music!

I wish you a very inspired and joyful musical year!

Daan van Aalst

Naum Grubert – Beethoven Sonatas

By | Navis Classics, Uncategorized

Pianist Naum Grubert released a Beethoven Sonata album on Navis Classics. You would say, nothing new for a pianist to record this repertoire that belongs to the heart of the piano literature. However, in case of Naum Grubert it is important to mention that he waited until this point in his rich career to project his vision on Beethoven in a recording. Music he has carried along during his whole life finds his way to this album. The project is part of a series of recordings in which Naum will record more Beethoven Sonatas but also for instance a Chopin Recital program.

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Pieter Wispelwey – ROCOCO

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Pieter Wispelwey recorded Tchaikovsky’s Rococo variations for the first ever released SACD on Channel Classics. He now returns to the subject adding two intriguing pieces: CPE Bach’s Concerto in A Major Wq 172 and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, arranged for Cello and string orchestra. The title of the disc is ROCOCO, Real, Retro and New and man can say that this is exactly what you will find on this album. The pieces all share a elegant and great Rococo feeling but they all come from a completely different period in musical history. An interesting thing to mention, and very much in the atmosphere of the program, is that Pieter plays the CPE Bach concerto an octave higher. This gives the piece a very shiny character and it also refers to the flute version of the piece. A lot of virtuosity and brilliance is the outcome of the decision to play it in this way.

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Navis Classics – Zemtsov Viola Quartet

By | Navis Classics, Uncategorized

The start of a new label, Navis Classics! ‘Navis’ is the Latin word for ‘Ship’. It stands for co-operation between the label and extraordinary musicians. In the past years I worked with many inspiring artists and I wanted to offer them an extra opportunity to release their projects. When I started the label I was already in close contact with Mikhail Zemtsov and we talked about recording the Zemtsov Viola Quartet. All the quartet members come from the Zemtsov family and they all studied with the great virtuoso Viola player Michael Kugel. The family connection as well as the high musical level they share make it a unique ensemble.

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Songs of Clarity

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After having released her debut album ‘Komm in mein Herzenshaus’, Klaartje decided to explore the music of William Byrd and Henry Purcell. She chose an unusual setting by asking the Amstel Saxophone Quartet to accompany her in the Byrd songs. In addition to that she performed songs by Purcell with a lovely basso continuo formed by harpsichord player Guillermo Brachetta and Robert Smith playing the Viola da Gamba. A special treat on the disc is a set of Purcell fantasias played by the Amstel Saxophone Quartet.

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Metamorphoses, the art of the virtuoso piano transcription

By | Rian de Waal, Uncategorized | One Comment

Without any doubt Rian de Waal’s masterpiece. A rich variety of recordings as a living example of the works discussed in the book, written by Rian de Waal in the last ten years of his life. Man can say that the transcription repertoire was part of Rian’s musical life and at the beginning of the 21st century he decided to write a book about it. While recording the repertoire that accompanies the book, his studies on the subject intensified. Being able to do musicological research while playing the pieces he examined, Rian found a symbiosis between absolute knowledge and artistic understanding.

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Pieter Wispelwey and the Flanders Symphony Orchestra

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Pieter Wispelwey once again teamed up with the Flanders Symphony Orchestra and conductor Seikyo Kim for a brand new release on ONYX Classics. After the successful release of the Britten cello concerto they decided to record a completely French program with Edouard Lalo’s cello concerto in D minor and the second cello concerto in D minor by Camille Saint Saëns. As Pieter writes about the concertos in the CD booklet:

“The two concertos on this disc belong to the small elite of Romantic cello concertos that have made it through to the 21st century – albeit in the case of the second Saint Saëns, barely or in the slipstream of its popular predecessor.”

In between the two concertos you will find the Love Scene from Romeo and Juliette by Hector Berlioz. An orchestral piece that completes this romantic and virtuoso program.

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Marieke Schneemann and Members of the Rubens Quartet recording Mozart Flute Quartets

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After an inspirational and successful tour, Marieke Schneemann and three members of the Rubens Quartet decided to record a CD featuring Mozart’s flute quartets. Marieke explains the decision to record the Mozart Quartets on the website of the Rubens Quartet:

“It was a natural process, after all of the positive concert experiences that we have had together in the past years, because the music is so unbelievably rich, has so many layers, and is never boring. Like a magic ball or a diamond. At a certain moment, the need emerges to confirm the bond that you have built together by making it public in the form of a CD. Even saying ‘yes!’ has a different meaning after so many years.”

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O lieb so lang du lieben kannst!

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O lieb so lang du lieben kannst, a strong motto chosen from a poem by Ferdinand Freiligrath. It inspired Franz Liszt to write a song on these wonderful words. Both the song and the piano solo transcription made by Franz Liszt sound on this special release, the third one on The Valthermond Recordings.

The album presents a fine selection of recordings that Marion van den Akker and Rian de Waal made in Valthermond. The CD reflects a period starting in 2004 until Rian’s death in 2011. The last three songs on the CD are dedicated to Rian and performed by Marion and Paul Komen.

Altogether a rich program and a reflection of the inspiration that Rian and Marion found in their concert hall in Valthermond.

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Rubens Quartet – ‘Rondom Roukens’

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The Rubens Quartet has launched a new CD with a very interesting and inspiring program. Alongside two world premiere recordings of new work by Joey Roukens, the quartet also plays the well known Mozart Quartet K.465 ‘dissonance’.

Joey Roukens has been ‘Composer in Residence’ for two years with the quartet so they are very familiar with his work. On this new recording you will hear ‘Earnest and Game’, a compostion from 2007 and a beautiful arrangement of Josquin des Prez ‘And David Sang’ from 2009.

In this short video you will see the Quartet during the Mozart recordings:

I have been recording this disc together with Wilhelm Hellweg, a recording producer who is well known for his productions at Philips Classics, Pentatone and other labels.

Please find some sound samples by clicking on the links below.

‘Earnest & Game’ Sound Sample 1

‘Earnest & Game’ Sound Sample 2

‘And David Sang’ Sound Sample

( the Quartet, Joey Roukens and Wilhelm Hellweg in the control room)

(Wilhelm Hellweg and me during the session)

Project info:

Recording venue: Westvest Church, Schiedam

Recording producer: Wilhelm Hellweg

Recording Engineer and editing: Daan van Aalst