Violinist Merel Vercammen returns to NativeDSD with her new album The Boulanger Legacy from TRPTK. The album follows her previous releases Silent City and The Zoo.
On The Boulanger Legacy, Vercammen not only plays the music with pianist Dina Ivanova, but she also wrote the album liner notes and ran a crowd funding campaign to fund the recording and its release! TRPTK tells NativeDSD “We’re so stoked about this one!”
That Merel Vercammen is constantly looking for new challenges is something she proves with her new TRPTK production. ‘The Boulanger Legacy’ is a thematically curated album in which the music of Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) and her students are the common thread. “Her influence on the music of the twentieth century has been gigantic,” Vercammen says. The school, of which she would become director in Fontainebleau, attracted many American music students. Various names such as Aaron Copland, Jean Françaix, Philip Glass, Daniel Barenboim, Elliott Carter, and Quincy Jones took lessons from her. Referring to her surname, there was talk of the “boulangerie,” as if she delivered composers like loaves of bread. The album includes works by her sister Lili Boulanger, Grażyna Bacewicz, Leonard Bernstein and Astor Piazzolla.
The three pieces by the young Lily Boulanger (1893-1918) that she wrote for violin and piano are featured with the expressive ‘D’un matin de printemps’ (1917) standing out. Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) enjoys great fame in her native country. Her music is highlighted here with the beautiful ‘Sonata No. 3 for Violin & Piano’ (1948). An early, modernist work by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) ‘Sonata for Violin and Piano’ (1979) features a series of variations in which he plays with form.
Additional color comes from “Le Grand Tango” (1982) by Argentina’s Astor Piazzolla, a piece he originally dedicated to the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Composer Sofia Gubaidulina arranged it for violin and piano. Vercammen and pianist Ivanova seem to step outside themselves for a moment in this special performance. Like no other, the duo lets the energy of the tango speak for itself! “We really had to make those rhythms our own,” Vercammen remarks.
The carefully constructed album concludes with the first movement, ‘Modéré,’ from Nadia Boulanger’s ‘Trois pièces.’ Melancholic music originally written for piano and cello but suited with a violin part by Vercammen.
Merel Vercammen – Violin
Dina Ivanova – Piano
Total time: 00:57:40
|Analog to Digital Converters||
Hapi and Anubis, Merging Technologies
Furutech custom microphone cables, Furutech custom balanced interlinks, Furutech custom power cables, Furutech custom loudspeaker cables
Grimm Audio CC2 at 352.8 kHz
DPA d:dicate 4006A, DPA d:dicate 4015A, Sony C100
KEF Blade Two loudspeakers, KEF LS50 loudspeakers, Hegel H30 amplifiers, Sennheiser HD800S headphones
JCAT NET Card FEMTO, JCAT M12 Switch Gold, Furutech e-TP609E NCF, Furutech NCF Boosters, R.T.F.S. acoustic modules
|Original Recording Format|
Steinway Model D-274 Concert Grand Piano
Furutech Daytona 303E, CAD Ground Control GC1
Brendon Heinst, Antal van Nie (Assistant Engineer)
This album was recorded between at the Westvest90 church in Schiedam, The Netherlands, between September 29th and October 1st 2020
|Release Date||April 30, 2021|
Merel Vercammen is an enterprising violinist. She keeps the initiative and choice of repertoire in her own hands, arranges financing through successful crowdfunding and writes the liner notes herself. Her third album The Boulanger Legacy, features the music of Nadia and Lili Boulanger, the Parisian sisters, who are each famous in their own way, but closely related to each other.
When Vercammen talks about The Boulanger Legacy, it is not only about Lili and Nadia herself, but also about Nadia’s enormous line of disciples. The fact that Vercammen and Ivanova stand up for the Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz is characteristic of their laudable preference to avoid the well-known paths of the repertoire. The fact that the Polish Bacewicz (1909-1969) still must wait to be discovered is due to the shameful attention we still have for female composers. “The most underrated composer of the 20th century”, Vercammen writes. Her immediately appealing third violin sonata from 1948 exudes the French atmosphere of the interwar period, but also has all kinds of contrasting individual traits that belong to a personal and surprising idiom. A discovery, certainly…
The violin sonata by the 21-year-old Bernstein dates from 1939 and does not belong to the Boulanger ‘legacy’, because Lenny and ‘mademoiselle’ did not know each other at the time. But Vercammen makes it plausible that this row of variations fits very well with a learning process in which Nadia automatically started to play a guiding role. Bernstein stayed in touch with her for life and was one of the last to speak to her before her death in 1979.
It is well known that Astor Piazzolla also belongs to Nadia’s pupils. A famous anecdote relates that she only started to find his music interesting after he played a tango for her. Undoubtedly her insights contributed to the way in which he managed to style Argentine tango into an autonomous artistic genre. Vercammen plays the Grand Tango that Piazzolla wrote for Rostropovich in a violin transcription made by Sofia Gubaidulina. This part of the album was previously released on a single, an almost unprecedented phenomenon in the classical world.
The album starts and ends with the Boulanger sisters themselves. Lili’s Nocturne and Cortège and D’un matin de printemps are beautiful and rewarding atmospheric pieces. This also applies to the first, Moderé from Nadia’s Trois pièces (also actually for cello), which shows that she was too harsh on herself with her own judgment about her composing talent.
Vercammen and her Russian piano partner Dina Ivanova (third prize Liszt Competition 2017) are striking talents with a creative and original angle and the recording by Brendon Heinst leaves nothing to be desired.
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