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Jan van der ROOST (b. 1956)
Concierto de homenaje (1996)a
Concerto per Tromba (2001)b
Rhapsody (1995)c
Fabio Zanon (guitar)a; Ole Edvard Antonsen (trumpet)b; Jacob Slagter (horn)c; I Fiamminghi Chamber Orchestraab; Symphonic Band Lemmens-Institutec; Rudolf Werthenab, Jan van der Roostc
Recorded: Sint-Martens-Latem, March 2002 and Lemmens Instituut, Leuven, March 1997
PHAEDRA 92039 [59:02]

Now in his late forties, Jan van der Roost has a substantial body of works to his credit, including two oratorios, a symphony, several concertos and orchestral works as well as many works for wind and brass bands for which he may be better known. Indeed, a number of them have been recorded (available on some De Haske discs [DHR 03037-3 and DHR 10.003-3] available in the UK through Salvationist Publishing and Supplies Ltd.). Van der Roost, who was also trained as a trombone player, has a real flair for the wind band, as is clearly evident in the earliest work recorded here, the Rhapsody for horn and wind band completed in 1995. This single movement piece falls into several linked sections played without a break. It opens with an arresting call to arms, a mighty upward glissando quickly leading into a lively, whimsical Allegro Burlesco followed by a central slow section of some substance exploiting the whole expressive range of the horn. This beautifully scored section often reminded me of Holst (particularly the Prelude from Hammersmith Op.52) with its slow moving ostinato in the bass register punctuated by mysterious glissandi. The music gathers some considerable momentum and moves towards an imposing climax redolent of Respighi in his Roman mood. A varied restatement of the Allegro Burlesco rushes the music to its dazzling conclusion.

The guitar concerto Concierto de homenaje, completed in 1996, is dedicated to Joaquín Rodrigo. One of the most remarkable features of this work is that it is conspicuously free from any Hispanism, and is entirely personal, never attempting at imitating Rodrigo’s music. Its three movements display an inexhaustible wealth of invention as well as expertly idiomatic writing for guitar. The first movement El Destino is based on two contrasting themes constantly varied and developed. The slow movement La Melancolía bears a passing semblance to the slow movement of Rodrigo’s celebrated Concierto de Aranjuez, in that its main theme is played by the Cor anglais; but this is as far as the comparison goes, for the music is entirely van der Roost’s own. This marvellous piece of music is one of the finest things by this composer that I have heard so far. In the third movement La Fiesta, the composer pulls out all the stops. The solo part, inventive as ever, uses a number of playing techniques, such Bartok snap pizzicato, tamburo, glissando and flageolet, to great effect, but never gratuitously so. This lively Rondo recalls earlier themes in its calmer sections, but the overall mood is one of joyous exultation. Concierto de homenaje is, I firmly believe, a most welcome addition to the repertoire, and guitarists should consider it seriously; for here is a highly rewarding piece of music calling for impeccable technique as well as musicality.

The Concerto per Tromba for trumpet, strings and harpsichord is another telling example of van der Roost’s versatility. The composer, again, pays homage to some earlier trumpet concertos (Vivaldi, Haydn and Hummel) while remaining his own man throughout. True, there are some brief and oblique allusions to Vivaldi and Haydn; but these are cleverly and expertly woven into the composer’s own sound world, so that they never intrude either as pastiche or parody. This is particularly clear in the outer movements. On the other hand, the slow movement Elegy, written in memory of the present soloist’s mother who died from a severe and painful illness, is a deeply moving piece of music for all its simplicity. Interestingly and significantly enough, in this movement, the soloist is requested to play his part either on Flügelhorn or cornet, both instruments with a soft and mellow sound. The third movement is another brilliant Rondo, briefly calling in the piccolo trumpet, in fact the sort of stuff that Maurice André would have relished and that Ole edvard Antonsen obviously relishes too. A splendid work that should appeal to all those who love Jolivet’s trumpet concertos or Ohana’s delightful Concertino.

The three works recorded here certainly give a fair idea of van der Roost’s music making as well of his instrumental expertise. Clearly indebted to the 20th Century mainstream, it is not afraid to rely on modern techniques, when they suit the composer’s expressive concerns. This is beautifully crafted and communicative music. It is well served here by excellent performances and recording. If you already know some of van der Roost’s works for band and are willing to hear more of his music, then, this attractive and enjoyable release is for you. If you do not know any of his music, then, this is the best possible introduction to his music. Well worth investigating.

Hubert Culot

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