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Michel van der Aa: Spaces of Blank, Mask & Imprint
The new label Disquiet Media has been developed to record the music of the multi-award winning contemporary Dutch composer Michel van der Aa. The first CD to be made available features various orchestral groups, conductors, and soloists, including the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, performing three works by van der Aa, Spaces of Blank, Mask, and Imprint.
Michel van der Aa was born in the Netherlands in 1970, and is one of Europe’s most sought-after composers today. Van der Aa's works often include a theatrical element, where staging, film, and music are seamlessly interwoven. Having completed his training as a recording engineer at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Michel van der Aa studied composition with Diderik Wagenaar, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen. His style, independent in spirit, is characterized by a constructivist approach and the use of rhythm and chords as structural elements. It is strikingly subtle, playful, poetic and transparent but not, however, expressive or melodious in the traditional sense.
In 1999 Van der Aa was the first Dutch composer to win the prestigious International Gaudeamus Prize. Subsequent awards include the Matthijs Vermeulen prize (2004), a Siemens Composers Grant (2005), the Charlotte Köhler Prize for his directing work and the interdisciplinary character of his oeuvre (2005) and the Paul Hindemith Prize (2006). Van der Aa recently revised his successful 2006 opera After Life for a revival by De Nederlandse Opera in September 2009 and by Opera de Lyon in March this year. In May it was presented semi-staged at the Barbican Centre in London.
“a viable overview of Aa's recent creative preoccupations” Gramophone Magazine, April 2011
“Even in these three orchestral works, Van der Aa persistently questions musical conventions and the accepted boundaries of the artform. Spaces of Blank, from 2007, appears to be the most conventional, a song cycle for the mezzo Christianne Stotijn...In Mask, for ensemble and soundtrack, the border between instrumental and electronic sound is constantly blurred” The Guardian, 3rd February 2011 ****
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Horizon 3: Recordings from the 2008-2009 season
With this third release in the Horizon series, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra once again underlines the importance it attaches in its concert programming to performances of contemporary music. The compositions featured on this CD represent a selection of recordings of contemporary works which the orchestra premiered in its 2008–9 season (some of which were commissioned by the orchestra) or of which few or no quality recordings are available. Two Dutch composers of the latest generation (Nas and van der Aa) are brought together here with two members of the older guard (Ketting and Keuris). Sofia Gubaidulina, for her part, represents the international contingent on this CD. In its performance of these works, the orchestra was led by conductors Ed Spanjaard, Markus Stenz and David Robertson. The CD also features soloist mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn, to whom van der Aa dedicated his song cycle.
Recorded Live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 19, 20 March 2009 (Van der Aa); 22, 23 January 2009 (Ketting); 10, 11 October 2008 (Keuris, Gubaidulina, Nas).
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