The Boulanger Legacy, a thematically curated album in which the music of Nadia Boulanger and her students are the common thread.
That Merel Vercammen is constantly looking for new challenges is something she proves with her new TRPTK production, The Boulanger Legacy, a thematically curated album in which the music of Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) and her students are the common thread. “Her influence on the music of the twentieth century has been gigantic,” Vercammen says. The school, of which she would become director in Fontainebleau, attracted many American music students. Various names such as Aaron Copland, Jean Françaix, Philip Glass, Daniel Barenboim, Elliott Carter and Quincy Jones took lessons from her. Referring to her surname, there was talk of the “boulangerie,” as if she delivered composers like loaves of bread. The album includes works by her sister Lili Boulanger, Grażyna Bacewicz, Leonard Bernstein and Astor Piazzolla.
The three pieces by the young Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) that she wrote for violin and piano are included, with the expressive D’un matin de printemps (1917) standing out in particular. The Polish Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) enjoys great fame in her native country and is represented on the album with her beautiful Sonata no. 3 for violin & piano (1948). An early, modernist work by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) is included: the Sonata for violin and piano (1979): a series of variations in which he plays with form.
Additional color to this album is Le Grand Tango (1982) by the Argentine Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), born 100 years ago, a piece he originally dedicated to the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Composer Sofia Gubaidulina made an arrangement of it for violin and piano. Vercammen and pianist Ivanova seem to step outside themselves for a moment in their special performance: like no other, the duo lets the energy of the tango speak for itself! “We really had to make those rhythms our own,” Vercammen remarks.
The carefully constructed album concludes with the first movement, ‘Modéré’, from Nadia Boulanger’s Trois pièces. Melancholic music originally written for piano and cello, but suited with a violin part by Vercammen.
Classical – Romantic (1830-1920)
Westvestkerk, Schiedam (NL)
PCM 352.8kHz 32bit
April 30th, 2021
"The haunting Nocturne initiates the recording with sensitive playing by the duo and a heartfelt rendering of the piece's vocal-like melodies by Vercammen [...] The essence of Piazzolla is captured, be it in the form of dagger-thrusting rhythms or sweetly romantic expressions."
Ron Schepper, Textura
"With this pair, chamber music becomes a medium without squeamishness or false vanity. Vercammen and Ivanova make music with their hearts on their sleeves and then, as a listener, you find yourself glued to the spirited sounds of Gracina Bacewicz."
"Vercammen and Ivanova also play enviably well together in Bernstein's Sonata for Violin and Piano, a turbulent youthful work. They find timbres to spare, from viola-like depth to rarefied height. Beautiful how they turn rarely heard pieces into a compelling track."
Guido van Oorschot, De Volkskrant
"A terrific collection, superbly played and recorded, and with wittily appropriate artwork."
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk
"Violinist Merel Vercammen and pianist Dina Ivanova have concocted a fruitful concept: the beautiful-sounding, homogeneous duo has followed in the footsteps of the Boulanger sisters."
"In addition to the elegant and confident technical realization, they convince with a view that can express itself just as strongly as discreetly whispering and still shows a multitude of shades in between. This fine result is complemented by a recording that is as clearly structured as it is full-sounding, drawing the two instruments separately as well as bringing the sound together."
Remy Franck, Pizzicato
"Vercammen and her Russian piano partner Dina Ivanova (third prize Liszt Competition 2017) are striking talents with creative and original approaches, and the recording by Brendon Heinst leaves nothing to be desired."
Gerard Scheltens, Opus Klassiek
"Together with Dina Ivanova, [Merel Vercammen] gives a particularly lovely picture of what kind of beautiful and delicious things were "baked" in the Boulangerie, even long after it closed."
Jan de Kruijff, Musicalifeiten
"Vercammen and Ivanova especially break a lance for Poland's Grazyna Bacewicz with a penetrating performance of her Third Violin Sonata. Bernstein's Violin Sonata is a surprising youthful work, played flawlessly. And that Piazzolla also studied with Nadia says something about her appeal. His Le Grand Tango is absolutely not out of place in this beautifully programmed and performed recital."
Peter van der Lint, Trouw
"Works by Lili Boulanger, Bacewicz, Bernstein and Piazzolla make a fascinating, and imaginative, line-up."
BBC Music Magazine
"Vercammen and Ivanova play this predominantly elegant and lyrical music with a slenderness and refinement, and in a relaxed tone they provide an appealing insight into each of the captivating and appealing works; aided by the spacious and natural-sounding recording."
Marjolijn Sengers, Luister Magazine
"The tone is French refined but utterly individual, decorative-armored. In the adagio, in a post-Romantic omnivorous language, something Beethovenian digs intently for its soulful origins."
Bas van Putten, De Groene Amsterdammer
"Vercammen and Ivanova bring a lovely quicksilver quality to the music as moods flash by, whilst the slow movement is quiet and intense, with a subtly disturbing element to this night time. The scherzo is sharply characterised and brilliant, and we end with a slower movement where we get something of a romantic atmosphere but with intelligent spice in the harmonies."
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill