Album: Eurasia Quartet plays Bierens | Six Pieces for String Quartet
Scroll down for the Spotify tracks and notes on the compositions.
This album is my first collaboration with the fabulous, award winning Eurasia Quartet. The quartet members are
- Asia Czaj from Poland on 1st violin
- Egle Kaunietyte from Litvania on 2nd violin
- Ekaterina Degtiareva from Russia on viola
- Stanislav Degtyarev from Russia on cello
There’s three more very important contributors: Henri Gerrits, Robbert Scherpenisse and Vincent Veneman, who made the fantastic string arrangements.
Notes on the compositions:
Frosty’s Waltz: Frosty, or Mr. Frosty as he likes to be called, is a snowman. Since a few years he notices that the winters are no longer what they used to be. It gets less cold every year and he can’t waltz on ice as often as he wants. This piece is about his last waltz of the season. It starts quite traditionally and develops into a playful and vivacious dance. In the middle movement, including an 11/8 time part and a bluesy interlude, Frosty realizes that this could be his last dance. This movement is followed by a dynamic up-tempo part that eventually goes back to the traditional waltz the piece began with. In the end Frosty gets sad, he feels that he is melting away but decides to finish his waltz with a final crescendo.
Mei (May): Mei is a month in which many of my close friends were born. This piece is written for Dame Agnes, the noblest of them.
Isidor: In the mid-nineties I filmed my sleeping eldest son, whose middle name is Isidor. Although he was only three years old at the time, he already knew what he wanted to be: a pilot. While filming, I fantasized that he was dreaming how he would become one and how he made his first flight. This music is the soundtrack to that dream. The basic theme is an e-d-c-d melody that meanders in an associative way, just like dreams do. Sometimes the melody changes, sometimes the harmonies, sometimes the rhythm, sometimes the tempo and sometimes all four. After the beginning of the dream, the ‘plane spotting’, the 2nd part symbolizes ‘the road to take-off’. Then the up-to-the-sky part followed by the first solo flight ‘above the clouds’ and the landing back-on-earth. In the last part, he realizes that his dream has come true. Imagine him riding his plane on the runway while making short flights over and over again – up and down, up and down – before finally heading home. And after he finally has parked his plane, he stays inside as long as possible. Of course, I can tell in much more detail which part or even which bars and notes symbolize which event, but I think you should experience it yourself. Enjoy your flight!
Erto: This version of Erto is the third and by far best version of this piece. Especially due to the melody that I slightly changed. Erto is a hamlet in northern Italy that was plagued by earthquakes for years. Shortly before an expected new massive earthquake, the government tried to force the citizens to move, but they all refused. They just went on with their lives, ignoring that something serious and life-threatening was about to happen. All Ertonians survived the next earthquake. The piece begins with a kind of ‘instrumental dialogue’ between people on the street, telling eachother: ‘They want us to leave, but we won’t go. There is nothing to fear, so we say no’ (although it’s an instrumental composition these words do fit into the music). Erto also consists of the last syllables of the names of my three sons and to be honest: that’s where it all started.
Maart (March) is the birth month of my mother. This piece was written in 2013, the year that she turned 80. It was originally performed for her in a very different version, for piano and percussion. However, when the audience started dancing, I decided to change the piece thoroughly. This is serious music, right? Not dance music… haha!
Requiem Voor Mijn Vader (Requiem For My Father): This composition began with the intro’s 10 bars, that sound a bit Bach-like. For years, it was all I had, with nothing after. When he was in his mid-seventies, my father asked me for some music to rap at a party (yes, he did…). I gave him this theme with a drum loop edited in the background. Later he told me that his performance was a big succes. In the last months before his death in 2011, I finished this piece. The music is a kind of soundtrack to his life, roughly divided into five parts: starting with his early childhood and ending on the day he left and flew away from us (he always said he could fly).