CD+DVD Reviews

“IK!” (I) – Nederlands Blazers Ensemble with guests and young composers, Live at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam New Years Day 2010 – CD + DVD NBE Live/Vara

A wild musical mix on New Year's in Amsersterdam.

Published on August 1, 2010

“IK!” (I) – Nederlands Blazers Ensemble with guests and young composers, Live at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam New Years Day 2010 – CD + DVD NBE Live/Vara

“IK!” (I) – Nederlands Blazers Ensemble with guests and young composers, Live at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam New Years Day 2010 – CD + DVD NBE Live/Vara NBCCD025, CD: 76:45, DVD: 94:00 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

Fascinating, exciting and frustrating at the same time. Amsterdam is the home base for the most unbelievable mixes of classical, jazz, folk, electronic, pop, avant-garde, circus, early music – you name it. If I were a young musician again, that’s where I would be, even if it meant becoming fluent in Dutch. And speaking of that, the frustration in watching the DVD of this New Year’s concert is that there are lots of descriptions and speech in Dutch and absolutely no subtitles of any sort!  That might happen if the language was French, Spanish or German… but Dutch?

Never mind the CD – you won’t know what is going on – watch the DVD.  It opens and closes with many of the Blazer Ensemble costumed in sheep skins and crawling around the stage baaaing. Not sure why, but it’s pretty funny, especially when they make their sounds occasionally during the opening and closing beautiful Purcell choral selection from The Fairy Queen: Hush, no more noise. There are a few other songs in English, which point up even more the lack of any onscreen English translation of the Dutch. There are a few other straight classical pieces among the over two dozen selections on the program – some highly avant such as Michael Nyman’s minimalist brass work An Eye for Optical Theory. There are some folk music instrumentals from the Balkans, Italy, Jewish culture and Latin. There is a little piece with two battling saxes by the late jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani, and even an Elvis impersonator doing Love Me Tender. Occasionally there are interviews with the young performers to be featured onstage as they slowly roll up the center aisle, all in Dutch of course. There is a very young marimba soloist in one number, but after all he is playing a pretty minimal solo.

There are some jazz selections featuring a battle of string basses, and while doing their solos the basses rise high in the air on pedestals. Again, who knows why. There are also two appearance of a contingent of I guess black blues musicians – some of them in wheelchairs – who swing some infectious African-sounding tunes I couldn’t quite pin down. The around 20 members of the Blazers Ensemble have played together already for 15 years (founded in 1959), obviously influenced by Willem Breuker, who just died last week. Conductor Edo de Waart played oboe in the original ensemble, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt conduct the ensemble for a time later on. Another of their programs alternates parts of Mozart Gran Partita with readings from Mozart’s letters to his father, and another tells the story of Schumann’s deteriorating mental health thru passages from his diary and interpretations of his music.  It is obvious they yearn for the adventurous in music, and certainly got into it in this concert.  They don’t care what genre or style of music they do, as long as it stimulates the senses. And mostly it does, even with the language problem.

TrackList:                     
1    Hush, No More Noise    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    2:38        
2    An Eye for Optical Theory    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    4:19        
3    Gorizia    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    1:09        
4    Marguérite    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    3:18        
5    En Ben Folle Quel Nocchier    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    2:26        
6    Garod Akh Garod    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    2:40        
7    Minimal B    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    2:54        
8    Little Piece in C for U    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    2:29        
9    Nonego    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    3:44        
10    Bratezlav’s Nigun    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    4:05        
11    Gorizia    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    1:17        
12    Mystery    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    4:18        
13    Strange Young Lady    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    3:35        
14    Living the Dream    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    3:36        
15    May the Law of Gravity Show You the Way    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    4:27        
16    Gorizia    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    1:20        
17    Staff Benda Bilili/ Mwana    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    3:36        
18    Weinen, Glagen, Sorgen, Zagen    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    3:16        
19    Ik Blijf Gewoon Ik    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    4:12        
20    Dorna    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    4:40        
21    Halleluya    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    1:48        
22    My Babe    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    2:50        
23    Hush, No More Noise    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    2:31        
24    Finale    Nederlands Blazers Ensemble    5:27        
    
– John Sunier




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