It was a journey that gave us a lot of hope and joy, and we hope to share these powerful emotions with you through these three beautiful works by Martinu, Rota and Mendelssohn.
The nine-member Intercontinental Ensemble consists of four strings and five winds. Their young members come from different countries and continents: Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In addition to playing original nonet repertoire, the musicians focus on their own arrangements of well-known classical pieces.
In 2018, they released their debut album Traveling Light on the enterprising TRPTK label, featuring arrangements of Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. The production was met with more than enthusiastic response. “I already wrote about the sublime artistic level, because that’s what the Intercontinental Ensemble (….) has to offer. Of course, symphony orchestras play this music with the proverbial two fingers in their noses, but reduced to this pure form of chamber music, the cards are definitely different: every individual nuance, every accent counts, just as phrasing and dynamics require extreme precision in order to achieve what is ultimately at stake in this case: extreme artistically designed transparency.” (Aart van der Wal in Opus Klassiek)
Now there is a strong follow-up with iconic nonets by Rota and and Martinu and an arrangement of Mendelssohn’s Italian symphony under the motto In Motu (in motion). “We rehearsed vigorously during the quiet period of the Corona pandemic and wanted to bring something optimistic. Hence the choice of this cheerful repertoire. Moreover, we felt that the time was now ripe to add some contemporary nonets to the repertoire,” says artistic director and violinist Ernst Spyckerelle.
The album starts with the evocative music of Rota, known primarily as a film composer. What is special is that this time he does not have to bend to a director and can go his artistic way unhindered. Martinu’s nonet is a musical love letter to his native Czech Republic, which he had to leave at a young age and to which he can no longer return. Mendelssohn’s famous Fourth Symphony, as is well known, forms a nostalgic account of his Italian journey.
Remarkably, In Motu is the prelude to a subsequent album to be released in the fall, featuring repertoire by female artiste through the ages: with illustrious names such as Louise Farrenc and Clara Schumann and attention to the new generation: Bianca Bongers, Sarah Neutkens and Aregnaz Martirosyan. Few ensembles make such a varied and surprising musical journey as the ever-moving Intercontinental Ensemble.
Classical – Classical (1750-1830)
Westvestkerk, Schiedam (NL)
September 3rd, 2021
"Often the music seems to beckon to the nineteenth century, shuttling almost coquettishly between exuberant and serene atmospheres, but sharp dissonances set the listener back in their own time. [...] a true explosion of music-making pleasure."
Eddie Vetter, Klassieke Zaken
"Few ensembles make such a varied and surprising musical journey as the ever-moving Intercontinental Ensemble."
Ronald Smit, Alpha Audio
"As with any arrangement of a symphony scaled down for smaller forces, the invitation is to listen to the music with fresh ears. What this nine-piece band lacks in weight they make up in dexterity and unfailing grasp of the composer’s discovery of new vistas, both literal and musical. The exposure of each instrument reveals the very high attainment of the individual players as accomplished and expressive musicians, and the goal-oriented discipline to produce collectively, without the overriding control of a conductor, a thoughtful, fully realized performance."
Mark Werlin, HRAudio
"Throughout this new release, the ensemble’s sound leans towards the symphonic rather than the more conventional chamber sound – there is a weightiness, well-captured by the astonishingly rich SACD sound, at the cutting edge of state-of-the-art."
Michael Wilkinson, MusicWeb International
"The radiance of the exuberant “Allegro vivace” instantly captivates, especially when the music exudes an urgency and power characteristic of Beethoven; it hardly hurts either that Mendelssohn's rapturous melodies are so singable. Sombre by comparison, the graceful “Andante con moto” plays like a funeral procession, while the “Con moto moderato” shows how effective a match the chamber size is for lyrical writing of its kind. That aforementioned dance dimension declares itself passionately in the charging “Presto” that concludes the symphony."
Ron Schepper, Textura