The members of The Vondel Strings were brought together by Dutch violinist Rosanne Philippens during the Corona virus crisis. Top soloists and chamber musicians were not allowed to play concerts for a live audience. But they were allowed to get together to record an album and a livestream concert.
Rosanne Philippens and The Vondel Strings performed a Haydn & Stravinsky livestream concert in April 2021 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Shortly after recording the program of Haydn’s Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 4 and Stravinsky’s Le baiser de la fée for Channel Classics Records.
The name of the ensemble is inspired by Vera Beths and her late husband Anner Bijlsma’s house in Amsterdam. That house is a lodestone for their pupils and for international stars, among whom it is known as ‘The Vondel’. Upstairs students were taught, downstairs life was discussed at the coffee table. It was natural that this ensemble, filled with such musicians, should be named after this special location.
Rosanne Philippens tells us: “I have often performed Haydn and Stravinsky in combination, and although at first sight you might not associate one with the other, I do believe they form a fine pair. Why oh why? Perhaps because of the music’s frankness. The nimbleness. The intelligence behind it. And the humor, which you hear so well in the little final movements. Haydn plays with his time signatures and puts the listener on the wrong track with his halting phrases. The pleasure of Stravinsky emerges for instance in a romantic pas de deux which turns and changes into a sort of circus music. I think both pieces are cheerful, light and sometimes rather romantic, but never over the top.”
Rosanne Philippens – Violin
The Vondel Strings
Promo video, from the recording session
• Promo video, live from Concertgebouw Amsterdam:
Total time: 00:57:41
|Analog Mixing Board||
Rens Heijnis, custom design
|Analog to Digital Converter||
Horus, Merging Technologies
Van den Hul 3T Cables, Exclusive to Channel Classics
Brüel & Kjær 4006, Schoeps
|Original Recording Format|
Jared Sacks, Paul de Vugt (Assistant Recording Engineer)
Singelkerk, Amsterdam in January 2020
|Release Date||September 24, 2021|
[…]The result is stunning. Two highly energetic violin concerti by Haydn frame a gorgeous arrangement of Stravinsky’s Le Baiser de la fée (The Fairy’s Kiss). Stravinsky wrote this work as a ballet in one act and four scenes in 1928. In 1934 Stravinsky reworked the ballet to a four-movement suite for violin and piano entitled Divertimento, and it is this work that composer James Ledger arranged for the violin and strings arrangement we here on this album. The ensemble here delivers superbly, with precision and a ready response to the changing moods throughout the piece, particularly with the various percussive sounds the strings are required to deliver in perfect unison.[…]
The result is simply breathtaking. With imaginative and audacious programming, we are regaled to a dazzling account of two violin concerti embracing a gorgeous arrangement of Stravinsky’s ‘Le baiser de la fée’, signed James Ledger. And looking at the list of musicians, one wonders where all this talent comes from.
Being a soloist in high regard is one thing, being able to lead an energetic group of aspiring players is quite another. Rosanne clearly is a person that can do both. My prime observation must be that it is the gift of youth to play with such eagerness and buoyantly ‘addictive’ engagement. There can be no doubt: With such genuine commitment, they will not fail to enchant any audience.
James Ledger’s orchestration of Stravinsky’s Divertimento is new to me. But judging it on its own merits I admire the kind of craftsmanship put into it. Rosanne’s playing is technically supreme, negotiating the virtuosi elements with ease without giving in to ‘showing off’, whilst expertly painting the different modes from sensitive to resolute into a most convincing Fairy Tale. The players follow suit with impeccable precision, turning Ledger’s Fairy into a balanced performance of equal souls.
If Haydn’s violin concerti were only made to amuse the Esterhazy household, then we should be pleased that Philippens cs. ably lifted them to a higher level, bringing out its delicate delight. To give them more weight I’ve heard them played too fast in the outer movement and too slow in the central part. Rosanne’s take is one of modest yet vibrant excellence, remaining with her Vondel friends honestly respectful towards the playful character of both concerti. A wonderful experience!
Jared Sacks must have put all his engineering, editing, and mastering skills into this recording. Not only to give Rosanne Philippens and The Vondel Strings their full due but also to lend full support to Rosanne in her wish to dedicate this release to the late Coosje Wijzenbeek.
This is a recording that we should all cherish for what it is: A guarantee that with such gifted players excellence and creativity can be safeguarded for many, many years to come. I do hope that this is not a one-off and that, with the end of Covid restriction hopefully near, The Vondel Strings and its spiritual Captain will continue to excel and enchant live audiences
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