The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between them.
It was a quote attributed to Claude Debussy that got them thinking. ‘The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between them.’ What could that phrase mean, violinist Pieter van Loenen and pianist Tobias Borsboom wondered. In the discussions the duo had, several explanations surfaced. These led to an idea: wouldn’t the statement be a good starting point for an album? While associating, Pieter and Tobias came up with the title The Silence Between.
At first sight the pieces and composers – Igor Stravinsky, Tōru Takemitsu, Francis Poulenc, Kurt Schwertsik, and, given the title impossible to ignore, Claude Debussy – seem to have little in common. Four of the chosen works are from the 20th century, Debussy’s Beau soir (around 1890) already points to it. But for all the pieces it is true that they both have a relationship with something extra-musical – a poem, a memory, a fairy tale – and in themselves, away from their source, their context, remain relevant. For all of them, the sources of inspiration have steered the composition in a certain direction, but the sources have not determined the music. Without knowledge of the story behind the pieces, they evoke images in many a listener. If we do take knowledge of these sources, they offer a direction in which to look, give the music a certain color, as it were. ‘We find that an interesting process,’ says Pieter. ‘Knowing the story in such a piece can enrich the listening experience, but it can also have an impeding effect; that your own fantasy or feeling in a piece is slowed down.’
Let’s get back to the title. The silence, which you can understand in so many ways, and about which you can talk for hours with musicians with a philosophical disposition – such as Tobias Borsboom and Pieter van Loenen. ‘The silence is about the moment of processing,’ says Pieter. ‘The composer creates the music while there was nothing yet. The silence is then like a blank canvas: an abstract space in which the music originates. He has written down notes from which the musician has to make music, from silence. The listener then again makes an interpretation of what he hears. There is silence in between that as well, if you notice the silence as space. This album is about that process, about interpretations of interpretations.’
Classical – Romantic (1830-1920)
Pieter van Loenen
Westvestkerk, Schiedam (NL)
December 3rd, 2020
"And then I become quiet about what they have accomplished, starting with Poulenc's particularly difficult Violin Sonata, the two corner movements of which really demand the utmost in precision and lavishly sprinkled aplomb. [...] And I was stunned at just the transparency and definition, down to the smallest detail imaginable. Thus, "The Silence Between" is a brilliant album in every way."
Aart van der Wal, Opus Klassiek
"Van Loenen's and Borsboom's approach to this music, to paying attention to the silences, adds immensely to their interpretations. The intentionality is palpable; it adds meaningfully to one's enjoyment of the works. All in all, these are intellectually challenging performances, full of exploration and the teasing out of subtleties that make these works fresh and engaging."
Rushton Paul, Positive Feedback
"Schwertsik's music has intensely emotional moments, by turns dramatic or tender and comforting; you can hear how the composer studied Beethoven's epistle attentively. And judging by the intensely felt tension building, this also applies to both young musicians. An eventful album."
Margaretha Coornstra, Nederlands Dagblad
"What flexible, sound- and language-sensitive performers these guys are, and what a beautifully contrarian choice of repertoire - culminating in the miraculous Poulenc Sonata, which makes the flattest kitsch tears shed with the deepest intimacy, making mockery suddenly seem like drama. How Poulenc governed this paradox no one knows, and you should not try to understand. Be silent and listen."
Bas van Putten, De Groene Amsterdammer
"Van Loenen has no difficulty whatsoever in striking the right atmosphere and character every time and is supported by Tobias Borsboom with his expressive recital."
Jan de Kruijff, Musicalifeiten
"Van Loenen and Borsboom have an unprecedented synergy, as in their version of Poulenc's Violin Sonata; a tone painting of sad frenzy."
Maartje Stokkers, De Volkskrant