In his fifth Stereo and 5 Channel Surround Sound DSD release at NativeDSD, Rembrandt Frerichs brings us a pair of Piano Concertos that he has composed. It’s a battle between ensemble and piano. The approach Rembrandt takes here goes back to the original performance practice of the great masters. It shows that classical and jazz are not as far apart as is often thought.
For pianist and composer Rembrandt Frerichs (1977), a new musical adventure began when viola player Michael Gieler invited him for an open conversation. Gieler is a solo violist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and leader of the IJ-Salon series, a cross-border ‘playground’ of chamber music with musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Gieler planted a seed that grew into a composition commission for Rembrandt’s first Piano Concerto. Rembrandt took up the challenge.
It is a logical consequence of his artistic choices over the past decade that Rembrandt has come to be known as a forward-thinking free spirit for musicians who want to break out of the confines of their professional practice. In his projects, he makes every effort to test both his own limits and those of his fellow musicians. On this album this can be heard, for example, on the track “Finale,” where the strings are plunged into a rhythmic world not yet common to classical musicians.
It’s easy to forget, but imagine that you could travel in a time machine to a Beethoven or Mozart concert and you would notice that Ludwig and Wolfgang mainly played their own work. Moreover, they often did not have a notated piano score. Later, one of these performances was transcribed and notated for publishing purposes. This score, passed on from generation to generation, has led to the widespread misconception that in what we now call classical music all the notes were always the same.
As in their time, a performance of the piano concerto is an experience of tailor- made music for the individual piano soloist. Because of the improvisations, no two concerts are the same. An illustrative example of this is the 3rd movement of the first piano concerto “Musique au font”, where a joint improvisation begins from 3:20.
Rembrandt: “For a long time it was unclear how the concert would sound in its entirety. The string players didn’t have a picture of the embedding of the piano yet. At the rehearsals I would say something like: I’m going to do something here, but what that is I’ll figure out during the concert. The penny didn’t drop until we played for an audience for the first time at the Oranjewoud festival and the musicians heard the piece in its entirety. You could truly read on their faces, ‘Aaaah so this is what he meant…’ That moment can be heard during the second movement of the piano concerto no. 2.”
As a listener, you experience the musical battle between ensemble and piano. An exhilarating ritual dance of two partners. A new path is taken as improviser Rembrandt combines the best of two worlds with the classical musicians on stage. As with Ravel, Debussy and Gershwin, the composer himself sits at the piano.
Rembrandt tells us “I want to take the audience into my ‘Black page / white page’ approach, which is to say that the listener is aware that the classical musicians on stage have an actual part with black dots on paper. I, on the other hand, have a completely blank page. I re-imagine the conversation with the orchestra each concert, providing musical commentary and a counterpoint, as on ‘Cadenza 2’ from the first piano concerto. Classical pianists play from a score. With my piano concerto, I take a clear stand in order to shake up performance practice by involving the audience in the creation process. In doing so, I am following the practice of both Mozart and Beethoven, who usually did not write out their piano parts either: they knew the parts of all the other instruments by heart but only created their parts during the concert. My starting point in this is my many years of improvised jazz background, which I bring to the fore in the last movement of the 1st piano concert, ‘Blue Pencilled Outlines’. In how this comes together, that adventure, we take the listener with us during our concerts.”
Rembrandt Frerichs – Piano & Composer
Marc Daniel van Biemen – Violin 1
Benjamin Peled – Violin 2
Jeroen Woudstra – Viola
Clément Peigné – Cello
Dominic Seldis – Double Bass
Vinsent Planjer – Percussion
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 00:59:54
|Analog to Digital Converters|
Hapi & Anubis, Merging Technologies with Grimm Audio CC2 master clock at 5.1 Channel DXD
Antal van Nie & Bart Koop
Furutech custom microphone, loudspeaker & power cables and interlinks, Grimm Audio TPR8 breakout cables
This recording was made possible by Investeringsfonds Muziek BumaStemra and Stichting Tonality.
Brendon Heinst (DXD), Tom Caulfield (DSD)
DPA d:dicate 4041-SP, 4006A, 4011A & 4015A, Ehrlund EHR-M, Singular Audio f-48
KEF Blade Two, KEF LS50 Meta, Hegel H30, Hegel C55
|Original Recording Format|
Brendon Heinst & Rembrandt Frerichs
Studio 150 in Bethlehemkerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands on December 10th and 11th, 2021
JCAT Optimo 3 Duo, JCAT M12 Switch Gold, JCAT NET Card XE, Computer Audio Design GC3, Furutech NCF Boosters
|Release Date||April 22, 2022|
With flair and finesse, Jazz and Classical come together in Rembrandt Frerichs’ piano concertos.
Jazz and Classical music come together in these adventurous piano concerts by Rembrandt Frerichs. Frerichs plays the solo part himself and gives himself, as befits a real jazz pianist, plenty of room for imaginative improvisation.
His ‘orchestra’ is a hybrid combo consisting of his regular percussionist Vinsent Planjer and five classical musicians: the Alma Quartet with double bassist Dominic Seldis. Both the eight-part First Piano Concerto and the shorter, four-part Second Piano Concerto unfold as a series of chameleonic rhapsodies.
In a random section baroque resonances, a fragmented tango and variations on a jazz ballad pass by. Unpredictable, yet every twist sounds smooth and casual.
Frerichs constantly offers the strings new themes or challenges them with angular rhythms. Now they go along with it, then again they shyly withdraw. Or everyone goes their own way in a stylistic cross between late romantic melancholy and jazzy cheerfulness.
And all of this executed with a great deal of flair and finesse.
Rembrandt Frerichs is a remarkably eclectic and innovative Jazz and World musician, synthesizing rhythms and sounds from many cultures. In this thoroughly engaging premier recording of his piano concertos, he collaborates with five string players from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and his long-time partner in The Rembrandt Trio, percussionist Vinsent Planjer. The result is a very special treat.
This new album presents yet a further musical adventure for Frerichs — a crossover of the Jazz and Classical music worlds. Written at the request of musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, his Piano Concertos present a collaborative dialog of Classical, Jazz and World music elements coupled with the Jazz traditions of improvisation while re-invigorating the Classical music tradition of extemporization.
As one will expect from Rembrandt Frerichs, if you’ve listened to any of his music, the concertos are innovative and draw from a wide range of influences. Contrasts are sharp, highly inflected, and brilliantly executed. His own playing is fluid, graceful, and full of the subtle inflections that add depth and complexity.
Vinsent Planjer’s percussion is, as always, inventive, articulate, and spot on to counterpoint or supplement what else is happening in the music. I truly enjoy/appreciate the sparseness of his additions. He doesn’t take over and go on mindless explorations of sound. When he enters the soundstage, he is there with purpose; he adds immeasurably to the musical conversation. My belief, without knowing for certain, is that Planjer has as much an improvisational role in these performances as does Frerichs. They have played so long together, they can perform as one blended mind to accomplish Frerichs’ goals.
And Frerichs has not left his string players to simply provide continuo support. No indeed. He challenges them as full partners in these works. Perhaps to their surprise as he leads them into some rhythmically challenging segments that are perhaps not that usual to the classical music performance world.
There is a constant, exhilarating ritual dance going on between ensemble and piano. These two partners contest with one another, occasionally coalesce with one another. But there is always a strong dynamic tension generating drama and engagement. The ensemble has a score, black dots on paper, to follow. Their path is defined. Frerichs, on the other hand, has a blank page. It is unfair. It is also very engaging for the listener wondering what might come next.
I would love to hear in an alternate performance, on a different day, what Frerichs might choose to do. For today’s performance, I simply stand and applaud. Highly recommended.
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