Nevenwerk II by The Ives Ensemble at the Korzo in The Hague

Although the Korzo in Den Haag is one of the Netherlands’, if not Europe’s, major players in the presentation and promotion of contemporary dance, it also provides a forum for some innovative and exciting new music.

Last night the superb Ives Ensemble presented Nevenwerk II to an enthusiastic audience in the venue’s main Zaal. The first of the three pieces played during the concert was Morton Feldman’s 1971 Three Clarinets, Cello and Piano. This slow piece, with lots of pauses and pizzicato from the cello has a mystical quality that has the listener eagerly awaiting the next phrase. The three clarinets, played by Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer, Hans Petra and Erik van Deuren, formed a perfectly matched unit producing some beautiful sounds and textures.

For the second piece, the clarinettists, and pianist John Snijders and cellist Job ter Haar, were joined by Josje ter Haar on violin and Helen Hulst on viola to play Arnold Schönberg’s 1926 Suite op.29. This is almost in the form of a sonata and is based on a single twelve-bar row emphasising the notes E♭and G which represent the composer’s name and that of his wife, Gertrude.

The concert culminated with a brand new work by the Dutch composer Richard Rijnvos who is Professor of Composition at Durham University in England. Entitled Riflesso sullo spazio (Reflections in Space) this was billed as a world premiere, although it had been played earlier in the week in Amsterdam. This is a companion piece to the Schönberg and in his variations on the German composers themes Rijnvos similarly uses the eight letters of the composer’s name which can be used as notes to create the composition. The result is a forty minute piece based around a series of rolling arpeggios on the piano with often lilting harmonic responses from the other instruments. There were some beautiful harmonies and textures to this piece which at times were almost melodic.

Contemporary music is not everyone’s cup of tea and can be difficult to understand and access. But it is worth making the effort and there would be no better place to start your appreciation than with the excellent Ives Ensemble.     Michael Hasted     19th April 2019


Photo by Astrid Burchardt