Marijn SIMONS (b. 1982)
The Legend of Kwahkaazuh, Op.58a (2009) [25:58]
Five, Op.48a (2008-9) [18:24]
Bas Continues, Op.40b (2007-9) [5:20]
Simon Ensemble (Philipp Stümke (clarinet); Ron Colbers (vibraphone, vocal); Karina Sabac (piano); Felix Giglberger (violin, viola); Sandra Borchers (contrabass))/Marijn Simons
rec. Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht, 13 March 2010
QUINTONE Q10004 [49:42] 
This CD begins as an interesting concatenation between classical music and jazz, but soon turns into something rather different. All the pieces here were originally written for solo instruments and are here given in arrangements by the composer for a “kind of jazz combo” played by musicians with impeccably classical credentials. The Legend of Kwahkaazuh brings a whole sheaf of classical quotations - Bach, Debussy and Prokofiev among others more or less recognisable - and a number of hints of fugal development. Simons has studied composition with James MacMillan, and his music has the same kind of easy approachability. There is nothing here to shock the horses. As the work proceeds the jazz overtones become less and less apparent, and the track Hopelessly perfect with its high violin writing and delicate accompaniment brings an initial feeling of Arvo Pärt. It is apparently a backwards version of the composer’s earlier composition Perfectly hopeless which can be heard on the composer’s own website.
Five is an arrangement for the same ensemble of an electronic score written for the Gotra Ballet. It is purely classical in tone with even a hint of Puccini’s Turandot in the clarinet passage at 1:28 in the first movement. This is less readily approachable than The Legend of Kwahkaazuh, but has a delicate stillness that is most enticing. Bas continues is a homage to classical bass continuo, and is charming if slight.
Simons is an interesting and still relatively young composer, and one looks forward to his future development with interest. He already has an impressive sheaf of commissions and performances. We are told in the booklet that “Simons’s principle is that concerts of contemporary music should be performed with understanding, passion and conviction for them to be equally successful in standard repertory concerts.” His performances here certainly fulfil that ambition and the playing of the various instruments - one might single out the energetic Felix Giglberger on violin - is superlatively responsive. One’s main criticism of this CD must be the rather meagre playing time, but that presumably arises from the fact that the recordings were made during the dress rehearsal and première concert by this ensemble. There is no hint of any audience noise, or indeed any applause at the end of numbers.  

Paul Corfield Godfrey 

An interesting concatenation between classical music and jazz soon turning into something rather different.