Do You Still

Reijseger Groeneveld van de Laar

Three tracks from Werner Herzog’s film Rescue Dawn

In 2007 Werner Herzog presented his American film ‘Rescue Dawn’ starring Christian Bale and Steve Zahn. It’s a story about the unforeseen adventures of a German-American pilot in the early days of the Vietnam war.

The feature film is a sequel on Little Dieter Needs to Fly, a documentary made by Werner Herzog about Dieter Dengler.

In reply to the question why Werner Herzog had chosen Ernst Reijseger’s music for the crucial scenes, he said: “Listen to Ernst’s music, promise that you will listen and then we will be friends and understand each other in a better way, because both of us win a new friend.”

Do You Still presents Reijseger’s compositions for two cellos and piano, an adaption in the tradition of classical chamber music. Reijseger is in the company of two renowned musicians from the Netherlands, cellist Larissa Groeneveld and pianist Frank van de Laar, who perform as a regular duo in the field of classical and contemporary (chamber) music. It was they who asked Reijseger to write a concert program and perform together. The trio gave live concerts (e.g. Amsterdam Cello Biennale) and participated in two documentaries: Tour through de VPRO Building by the Dutch director Cherry Duyns, and Do You Still by the French director Jacques Goldstein.

Ernst Reijseger on Do You Still:

“This set of pieces represents a part of my upbringing and curiosity. From when I was very young, music from all over the world inspired me. I intuitively played in a way that I later found out is called improvisation. Although I was always interested in the traditional cello technique and aware of the cello repertoire, my development led to a personal way of playing and composing. I developed my own pizzicato techniques, rhythmical approach and phrasing, inspired by drummers, pianists and saxophonists. I play with musicians of all different backgrounds. 

Complementary to the written music for Larissa Groeneveld and Frank van de Laar, I feel best when my role is subject to change. I think of myself as the ‘libero’ on the football field, who can determine his own position. 

To me, it was a great honour and opportunity to play with such high level musicians who want to take the time to see the music take shape in the rehearsal process.”   

The pieces Gretchen am Spinnrade (Voice from another World), Do you still (River in the Rain) and Marta (Monsoon) are part of the score for Rescue Dawn. Reijseger’s compositions match the quest in the jungle. Gretchen am Spinnrade is a highly emotional piece. Reijseger originally composed it to a text by Goethe about a young women who finds no peace because of her love and desire for a man. In the film, Voice from another World occurs at a crucial moment, when, finally, a helicopter flies over the jungle. The music plays for seven minutes. It’s uncommon for a piece of music to last that long in a feature film.

The pieces Veils and Douze were composed by Martin Koeman (violin, guitar) and date back to the time when Reijseger and Koeman were twenty years old. They met in the Riciotti Ensemble and played as a duo for several years. Koeman was a genius who died too young.

“…Virtuosic and committed…In an age where the musical landscape is reinventing itself there is much food for thought…”
Joanne Talbot, The Strad

“This time, the gentle chamber music predominates in Reijseger’s compositions, resolute action is seldom done. Elegant dreariness.”

A very particular work, after all, like all the works Ernst Reijseger has accustomed us to, this Do You Still sees the pianist Frank van der Laar next to the great Dutch cellist. and another cello, that of Larissa Groeneveld.

The record has a chamber imprint, but proceeds amidst noises, inventions, continuous changes of atmosphere. Exemplary is the starting track, Gretchen am Spinnrade (Voice from another World), in which the dramatic themes exposed by Groeneveld’s cello and van der Laar’s piano are constantly put off by drones, by noises and even by a curious and expressive lament, produced by Reijseger.

The title track is more composed, but still complex and highly expressive, with the touching contrast between Reijseger’s frenetic improvisation and the serene tone of Groeneveld [..] more classically contemporary [..]

Very different, more traditional and evocative, “Passaggio”, which is counterbalanced by the subsequent “May the Law of Gravity Show You the Way”, exasperatingly rhythmic and contaminated – and yet beautiful. The conclusion is splendid and emblematic, with “Armings” which combines lyrical suggestion, expressive intensity – excellent van der Laar’s piano – and radical improvisation.

In conclusion, a great work by the volcanic cellist, composed and coherent….capable of expressing a well-determined and intriguing project: the reinterpretation and updating, on sometimes extreme keys, of the traditional chamber relationship between piano and cello. A project that produces very interesting results here.”

AAJ Italy Staff, AllAboutJazz