This extensive series has now reached volume 6 and the farthermost reaches, I suspect, of even the most ardent admirer’s knowledge of Dutch chamber music. Orthel, Ketting and Lilien are welcome on disc at any time, and even Hendrik Andriessen, sometime director of the Utrecht Conservatory and a more prominent figure, certainly deserves to be represented by multiple recordings of his music.
Léon Orthel had written his first Sonata for Cello back in 1925. His Second Sonata of 1958 assumes a rather saturnine and melancholic quality, animated by a weary impulse of lyricism. Things look up for the Vivo, written in the bracing French tradition - much darting, quicksilver string writing and an assertive role for the piano too. Here the music springs ardently to life, impelled by a now much more healthy lyricism in the contrasting B section. For the finale, as if exhausted by the fun, we return to grey. A March motif surfaces amidst the mosaic-like writing, the music ending with an almost cyclical reference to its dour opening.
Piet Ketting’s Sonata was written just a few years after Orthel’s First. The influence here, well integrated, is that of Pijper and the writing is ordered and convincing. The two movements - a Lento and a Poco Allegro - balance each other nicely and are of the same length. In its symmetry it’s a real success, though it has less overtly memorable things to say thematically. Andriessen’s 1926 Sonata is influenced by French music, though not so much by Debussy and Ravel as by Roussel. The opening is certainly not all tranquillo as marked but there’s a concentrated, intense quality that suffuses the Scherzo and the rich Arioso slow movement. The finale’s deft writing hints at the recently departed Fauré, as well as evoking rather darker colours. Finally there is the Sonata by the Lviv-born Ignace Lilien. His Sonata was written in the last year of the First World War. The free-spirited young man had biked from his native city (Lemberg, Lvov or Lviv, as prevailing circumstances dictate) across Europe just as the War was breaking out and had to remain in Holland. The 21-year old’s Sonata fuses jaunty lyrical string writing with some crabby pianistics, though this latter turns positively resplendent at the close of the opening movement. The piano bell peals are a giddy quality in the finale and this energetic and youthful work strikes sparks throughout.
The performances by Doris Hochscheid and Frans van Ruth are ardent and convincing.