In The Forest in April, the relationship between soloist and orchestra is central as a metaphor for the relationship between man and nature.
Composer Jan-Peter de Graaff (Terschelling, 1992) studied with Klaas ten Holt, Guus Janssen, Calliope Tsoupaki and Diderik Wagenaar. He successfully concluded his studies at the Royal Conservatory with the opera All Rise. De Graaff is not part of the fashionable minimal movement, but composes ‘old-fashioned’ complex. His music is richly orchestrated, melodious and transparent at the same time. He also likes to make use of theatrical elements.
For cellist Hans Woudenberg, De Graaff wrote Rimpelingen (“ripples”) in 2017 on the occasion of his farewell to Asko|Schönberg, a work that was received with joy by the trade press. In season 2020-2021 cellist Maya Fridman was artist in residence at the Utrecht-based TivoliVredenburg. Through the artistic leadership of this venue, contact was made with the composer and a new initiative came about, with support from the Fonds Podiumkunsten. De Graaff was commissioned to compose a new work for Fridman, which was later titled Concerto no. 5 “The Forest in April”.
In March 2021 The Forest in April had its premiere in Utrecht, performed by Maya Fridman and the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicolò Foron. Enthusiastically, De Volkskrant writes: “After a solo cadence that lasts for minutes, in which Fridman is allowed to indulge her qualities as a playing beast, a fierce battle ensues. Angular orchestral motifs alternate with the cello’s seething dissonance. Even here the composer mixes the timbres so skilfully that beauty lurks even in the discordant sounds.”
De Graaff: “In the composition, the relationship between soloist and orchestra is central as a metaphor for the relationship between man and nature. In The Forest in April you can hear how the cellist influences the orchestra and how the orchestra slowly mutates into a monstrosity that collapses under its own weight. The work ends with a Requiem, in which the orchestra blows itself up, as it were. Lonely the lamento of the cello floats over the destruction of the orchestra. A deeply emotional moment.”
In June 2021, the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra additionally recorded Concerto no.4 “Rimpelingen”. This time under the direction of conductor Sander Teepen, with another starring role for cellist Maya Fridman. In Vrije Geluiden De Graaff told us that he was inspired by pebbles crunching on the water: “Then I zoom in on the ripples on the surface of the water and on what’s happening underneath, that’s the ensemble. That’s where a complete world emerges, which eventually fades out.”
Classical – Contemporary (> 1920)
Graaff, Jan-Peter de
De Oosterpoort – Grote Zaal, Groningen (NL)
March – June 2021
DSD256 / PCM 64bit Computational Hybrid
November 26th, 2021
"Also in Concerto No. 5, The Forest in April, De Graaff aptly folds the orchestral voices around a virtuosic, alternating cello part. It is inspired by our destructive dealings with nature, which is expressed in a fierce battle between soloist and orchestra in the second movement. Ominously dissonant harmonies and thundering percussion seem to herald the apocalypse. Fridman's impassioned recitation is matched by the equally experienced playing of the NNO."
Thea Derks, Klassieke Zaken
"TRPTK delivers to us another amazing recording with Maya Fridman, a cellist whose musical sensibilities and skill never cease to enthrall me, performing two outstanding works for cello and orchestra by Jan-Peter De Graaff. The works are challenging and the performances by Maya Fridman are compelling. If you are at all sympathetic to contemporary music, these are works that I encourage you to hear."
Rushton Paul, Positive Feedback
"After a solo cadence that lasts for minutes, in which Fridman is allowed to indulge her qualities as a playing beast, a fierce battle ensues. Angular orchestral motifs alternate with the cello’s seething dissonance. Even here the composer mixes the timbres so skilfully that beauty lurks even in the discordant sounds."
Frits van der Waa, De Volkskrant
"Adopting the role of explorer, Fridman glides gracefully across the shimmering foundation with vibrato-rich bowing and expressive flourishes. The music advances through ponderous episodes and others of a more eruptive kind."
Ron Schepper, Textura
"De Graaff is a wizard with orchestral colors in a language that, while contemporary, also often sounds harmonically familiar. [...] What already impressed at the concert has now become even more intriguing in tenable form on CD."
Paul Herruer, Dagblad van het Noorden
"It is masterly how many colors De Graaff manages to put in the orchestral part. The North Netherlands Symphony Ochestra is on point and enters into battle with Fridman as a unit. Impressively subdued are the passages in which Fridman sings."
Hanna Blom-Yoo, De Nieuwe Koers
"His music is essentially atonal, but because it is not systematized to death and De Graaff still dares to be romantic in the contours and flow of his melodies, the listener is carried away with a gentle but compelling hand in the abstract story he wishes to tell. A great asset here is his orchestration skill. The music is colorful, always remaining clear and surprising."
Erik Voermans, Het Parool
"Maya Fridman, who was jointly responsible for the composition of Concerto No. 5, is able to present herself as an artist who gives herself fully to the interpretation. Since there are no technical obstacles in her way, she can concentrate entirely on the performance of the music. And she does this with verve and deep penetration into this world."
Remy Franck, Pizzicato