classics that speak for themselves, as chosen for you by our invited guests
ninety minutes of wwclassic music radio, ohne worte, without words
a musical key to our guest's individuality.
For without words this time, we have stayed very close to home.
On the other side of our huge mahogany desk sits the ‘other w', musicologist Emile Wennekes,
Chaired Professor at Utrecht University and Head of School there, of Media and Culture Studies.
Often, The ‘other, other’ w (cw as opposed to ew) hears what’s going on,
on that other side of the desk, just before headphones get taken up and one can fall back
into one’s own silence (or headphones). Now we can all share some of what is going on
inside Emile’s musical world, at least what he could easily grab from the CD shelves
here at home.
Wonderful that he has included the legendary Billie Holiday in his choice,
because then I can easily end this intro with the song she made famous:
‘One day he’ll come along...the man I love’
(Red Sofa-foto by Frans Hanswijk; with kind permission of De Doelen)
Emile's wherefore and whyfore in without words:
 A chord like a watery sun, long-drawn-out notes of wind instruments.
What on earth is this piece? In a way it sounds familiar, on the other hand it doesn’t at all.
As the orchestra builds up, well balanced, you start to recognize the tune:
it’s My Generation, the all time classic rock song by The Who, but now dressed up
as an orchestral piece. It’s a little bit bombastic this arrangement by conductor Pete Scholes –
admittedly. It’s a little bit kitsch, this performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra,
but to me an orchestration like this underlines the fact that today’s music lovers belong to
the class of the cultural omnivores.
So here’s the rest of my eclectic mix for a lazy Sunday afternoon for without words.
 The band members of The Who first met before I was born, but I was fond of their music as an
adolescent, a bit more than 25 years ago. Time flies, or phrased more poetically:
‘Hence, O mortals, learn ye that the joys of the world are empty, its labours vain,
its honours fleeting, its favours false, that all is vanity and but a shadow.’
Hinc, mortales, vanitas vanitatum.
This track is part of a five-voiced vanitas-composition by the brilliant 17th
century composer Giacomo Carissimi.
 The next track features Wynton Marsalis on cornet in, yet again, an arrangement.
This time it is an arrangement of Paganini’s opus 11 by Donald Hunsberger.
Although Marsalis doesn’t seem to breathe (he uses the technique of rotary
or circular breathing), there is no end to his dazzling performance of this well
known Moto Perpetuo. In a way there is, musically speaking, hardly anything going on
– some simple changes basically – but at the same time Marsalis blows a gazillion notes
through his horn. Amazing virtuosity: making music out of a simple given.
 Gustav Mahler also knew how to make music out of a simple given.
In this track – the third movement of his First Symphony – it is a quote from a
slightly altered children’s song, first introduced in the bass line and then
canonically followed by bassoon, cello, bass tuba etc. Mahler plays the orchestral instruments
as if they were participating in a join-in-the-square dance. The chosen performance
is by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra which celebrates its 120th anniversary this month.
Conductor is its former chief, Bernard Haitink. Professionally I have been following the career
of Maestro Haitink for quite some time now; this resulted two years ago in a Dutch language
book (in co-authorship with historian Jan Bank) about his Amsterdam years:
De klank als handschrift: Bernard Haitink en het Concertgebouworkest
(Sound is Signature: Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra)
 In the Mahler movement the kettledrum plays a steady, almost ritual role.
This inspired me to go from one of the major pieces in the classical canon to a
classic jazz standard: St. Thomas, featuring Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone,
Roy McCurdy on drums and the great Ron Carter on bass.
Once upon a time I dreamed of becoming a jazz musician and Sonny Rollins
was one of my heroes, teaching me through his music how to make music,
again, out of a simple given. His advice to me was: don’t immediately start
freaking around the changes, but build up your improvisation out of just one
or two notes, vary them rhythmically.
 This track introduces a composer only known to a select group of people,
not specifically music lovers or musicologists, but rather art historians.
This is probably because it was Dutch composer Jacob van Domselaer who introduced and
branded the term De Stijl (The Style), of which his friend Piet Mondrian was to
become the world wide acknowledged icon. Between 1913 and 1917 van Domselaer
wrote nine so called Proeven van Stijlkunst, (proofs of ‘style’ art) for piano solo
in which he experimented radically with the horizontal and vertical lines in music.
‘You have to play these pieces as if the ‘standing element’ (the harmony) steps to the foreground
and the ‘movement’ (the melody), is unhindered and quiet in spite of the dominance of the
standing element.’ For this track I choose number 3, an ongoing, strongly chromatic conceived
piece based on the well known BACH- motive, performed by pianist Kees Wieringa.
 The pianist on this track is Carl Drinkard; he subtly accompanies Billie Holiday in Don’t explain,
the Arthur Herzog, Jr. song, live at Carnegie hall in 1956. In 1949, Lady Day asked Drinkard,
then a youngster of twenty, to accompany her. ‘You don’t have to worry about my music’,
Billie said. ‘If you can play The Man I Love, you can play for me. I’m the easiest thing in the
world to play for.’ Fellow heroin user Drinkard gets a whole chapter in Julia Blackburn’s
book With Billie, in which the life of Lady Day is vividly captured. Drinkard lets the music
breathe in Don ‘t Explain, keeping the accompaniment very open, giving Billie all the space
she needs to tell her sad tale of love.
 ‘Time is of the essence’, to paraphrase the late Michael Brecker. In music, timing is
all it’s about, n’importe whether in classical, jazz or non-European music.
This gamelan piece of Bali proves it. It is part of the gamelan gong keybar, a famous gamelan,
created in the last century. The Dutch occupiers of that period once killed many of
Indonesia’s people, thusly destroying traditional life – still a sensitive issue in Dutch politics.
The piece has explosive syncopated passages for the whole gamelan, ‘quicksilver ornamentation,
and beautiful interludes in free rhythm, played in perfect unison by the whole metallophone section’,
according to the liner notes.
 From gamelan to the mellow tones of Steve Reich’s minimal music isn’t a far journey at all.
This season the Rotterdam concert hall De Doelen offers a Steve Reich retrospective, as
part of the Red Sofa series of modern music, for which I function as a host.
Having a public after concert chat with Steve Reich on a real big, soft sofa is one of
my humble tasks. RED SOFA
(photo by Marnix van Berchum)
The music of Steve Reich does not only inspire ‘classical’ musicians, but also has appeal
for a new generation of creative DJs, using methods Steve Reich started experimenting
with some four decades ago. This track offers a remix of Reich’s Piano phase by Matt Winn.
 Somewhat heavier, this track is a genius drum solo by Indian tabla player
Trilok Gurtu called Mother tongues. The side-kicks of Trilok are guitarist John McLaughlin
and bass player Kai Eckhardt. Like the kettledrums in the Mahler symphony, Maclaughlin
and Eckhardt create a slow, consistent mixing layer of alternate chords.
Over this base, Trilok accelerates and slows down again in an inimitable way.
I first met Trilok as Chairman of the jury of the
Tromp International Music Competition & Festival in Eindhoven.
This bi-annual event alternates, featuring the string quartet and solo percussion
as competitive ‘instruments’. This coming November it’s once again the string quartet
in the limelight, from November 15-23. Thirteen quartets from all over the world will be competing.
I am looking forward to what promises to be a great week full of music and tension.
Trilok Gurtu performs regularly with the Arké String Quartet and has composed
several pieces especially for their collaboration. Tromp
 When contestants make it into the competition’s second round, the Tromp competitors
have to choose a piece out of a list with string quartets by Dutch composers.
One of the pieces on the list I suggested is There must be some way out of here by
Jacob ter Veldhuis, alias Jacob TV.
The title of this quartet – his third – is of course a quotation of the Bob Dylan song
All along the watchtower, made famous by Jimi Hendrix. Jacob TV is an intriguing composer.
On the surface, his music may have some ‘regressive’ diatonic characteristics, with
hardly any dissonances causing tension, but the way he brilliantly uses samples from
outside the musical discourse, as well as the way he nowadays works with formats rather
than with traditional genres keep all of us intrigued and eagerly anticipating his next step.
I am now preparing an article and some lectures about this theme,
 Whereas 19th century music programmes had a tendency to unexpectedly end with an overture,
I though it a better idea to finish without words with a real finale, the Allegro Energico from the
First violin concerto by Max Bruch. It’s a piece that I have loved since I was really little.
The performance here is special: we don’t hear a perfect studio recording but a live radio
recording dated nearly seventy years ago, recorded in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
Soloist is the American violinist Guila Bustabo, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra is conducted
by the great Willem Mengelberg. The performance took place in Nazi-occupied Holland, in
October, 1940. Mengelberg’s reprehensible attitude of acceptance towards the Nazi’s resulted in a
post-war conviction and his being banned from conducting. He died isolated in his chalet in
the Swiss Alps in 1951. Bustabo was also accused of Nazi-sympathy, because she had indeed
collaborated with Maestro Mengelberg. This performance had some nasty historical effects,
nevertheless, it carries you away, away from this lazy Sunday afternoon.
You need to upgrade your Flash Player
-London Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Scholes conducting,
from The Symphonic Music of the Who, Serious: My Generation
-Tragicomedia, directed by Stephen Stubbs and Erin Headley,
Giacomo Carissimi, Vanitas vanitatum II
Teldec, Das Alte Werk 4509-98410-2
-Wynton Marsalis, cornet, Carnaval: Moto Perpetuo, opus 11, Pagininni
CBS Records Masterworks MK 42137
-The Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink conductor,
from Mahler, the Symphonies, Symphony No.1 in D, ‘Titan’,
Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen
Philips Classics 442 050-2
-Sonny Rollins, saxophone, Ron Carter, bass and Ron McCurdy, drum from Planet Jazz:
BMGClassics 7432169653 2
-Kees Weringa, piano, Jacob van Domselaar, from Proeven van Stijlkunst: III 1914 ‘B.A.C.H.’
Do records 001 1994
-Billie Holiday, Don’t Explain, from The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959
Tony Scott on clarinet, Carson Smith on bass and on piano, Carl Drinkard.
Polygram Records, Verve 517 666-2
-Bali, recorded in Bali by Daivd Lewiston, Gamelan Gong Sekaha Sadha Budaya Gending Kebyar Kosalya
Arini, directed by I Wayan Rai S, Chokorda Raka, and I Made Sadia
-DJ Matt Winn, Steve Reich D’Note’s Phased and Konfused mix, from Reich Remixed
-The Definitive Trilok Gurtu, from Twenty Years of Talking Tabla:
Mother Tongues, with John McLaughlin (Live-edited version)
-The Netherlands Quartet, Jacob ter Veldhuis, from String Quartet no.1
There must some way out of here, Slow Movement
-The Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Willem Mengelberg, Bruch,
from the Violin Concerto no. 1 in g, opus 26, Allegro energico,
Soloist is Guila Bustabo from an AVRO radio recording,
1940 Willem Mengelberg Live The Radio Recordings, Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Q Disc 97016 www.rnw.nl