Ernst Reijseger Two Cello Concerts
Double Live presents two cello concerts, composed and performed thirteen years apart.
The first concert (1997) is a meeting between Graewe’s composing and Reijseger’s instant composing and structural design of the piece. We hear contemporary symphony orchestra idiom and adventurous orchestral soundscapes.
The excellent hall and acoustics of the Concertgebouw are fully explored. Bells sound as conductor and soloist descend the stairs. Graewe’s intense first 37 solo cello bars launch Reijseger as soloist into zero gravity. From here onwards Reijseger is in charge of his solo cello part and improvises until the end. He steps in as instant composer, giving assignments by directing the orchestral players, as a sidekick to conductor Vincent de Kort. Reijseger’s spontaneous assignments create a playful contrast with Graewe’s orchestral passages that are carefully written out.
Reijseger and Graewe make the orchestra cover a wide range of sounds. Musicians whistle in unison, acoustically creating an out of phase effect. Percussionists drive nails into wood, give a high five holding one cymbal each and bounce tennis balls off the skins of their timpani and bass drum. Wind and string players play fast phrases that are purposely impossible to play together, resembling a flock of starlings.
All these sounds are embedded in Graewe’s serial orchestral sections, upon which Reijseger’s one-of-a-kind cello vocabulary thrives.
Reijseger is not bound to his soloist chair. He walks around whilst playing, appointing small ensembles in the orchestra, ending up playing electric cello with the percussionists in double forte. The element of surprise is palpable: a merry-meeting between a youthful eighty-headed symphony orchestra, a brave conductor and a cello explorer.
A happy memory of Anner Bijlsma, Reijseger’s cello teacher and befriended mentor, who listened from the balcony and frequently referred to this concert. Reijseger dedicates this concert to him.
The second concert (2010) introduces the depth of a 5-string cello, providing an extra low F-string. The wind ensemble and soloist rely on each other’s support as they perform this concert without a conductor.
Reijseger starts off on his own. At the back of the stage of the modern Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, a subtle light shines through vertical wooden strips. One by one, the ensemble gathers on stage. We hear the Netherlands Wind Ensemble braiding a fugue. The music of the full ensemble builds in density before calming down for Reijseger to play his first solo. Reijseger uses broad phrases, elaborating and storytelling without the urge to make unnecessary statements.
In the second movement, Down Deep, Reijseger plays percussion and pizzicato only, featuring his bass string. We hear his love of cross rhythms, creating surround effects and inducing a state of trance that makes you move. The renowned contemporary wind ensemble transforms into a big band.
Child’s Footprint, the third movement, is Reijseger’s orchestral version of a piece for cello and organ from the film score of Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog).
Unusually slow for a final movement, it brings the music back to an emotional level, creating a lasting imprint, but disappearing without a trace. Just like the 26,000 year old footprint of a child, found in the soil of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave in the French Ardèche.
© Spring Music 2021