This post is also available in: Dutch
LEIPZIGER VOLKSZEITUNG 10 FEB 2014
If spirits are not up yet by then, they certainly will be with Carel Kraayenhof’s Suite Compassión, which starts off with ‘La Marea – Terremoto’. Rough stings and dark piano sounds, the huge force of an earthquake presents itself.
The solo part of the bandoneón in ‘Suite Compassión’ is handled by the composer himself. Kraayenhof is one of the most important bandoneón players of our time, and feels equally at home in the world of tango as well as in other genres.
Carel has dedicated his Suite to Astor Piazzolla, and puts the bandoneón with its sounds in contact to the tireless driven drama of the orchestra’s tutti.
Kraayenhof gave the second movement the title “Compassión”. This empathy expresses itself in a wonderful melancholic melody, which is passed on by the instrument sections engraving itself in the heart.
Concertmaster Waltraut Wächter sends off a melting violin solo. Accompanied by the dark strings pizzicato and the melancholy of the piano, the virtuous Kraayenhof celebrates with his bandoneón the sweet pain of the tango.
In the powerful last movement ‘Fuerza’, the tempo increases. By then no one can hold back from the emotional rollercoaster of passion, melancholy, sadness and hope.
All that guarded by Järvi with gracious tempo and, above all, much empathy. The glances between conductor and soloist speak volumes. Inspired they conjure up movements of inner competence.
The very first movement of the Suite provoked a spontaneous applause. The encore, after the enthusiastic final applause, ‘Milonga del ángel’ (by Astor Piazzolla) gave everyone in the audience goose bumps.
DUO, Carel Kraayenhof & Juan Pablo Dobal:
Carel Kraayenhof & Juan Pablo Dobal: Puro. Música Argentina
Ein ansprechend gestaltetes Cover ist ein guter Türöffner, um sich neuer Musik zu nähern. Der niederländische Bandoneonist Carel Kraayenhof und der argentinische Pianist Juan Pablo Dobal legen mit ihrer neuen CD Puro genau ein solches vor, inklusive ein liebevoll gestaltetes Booklet mit vielen nostalgischen Fotos, die andeuten, was den Hörer erwartet: Eine musikalische Reise durch verschiedene Regionen Argentiniens mit jeweils unterschiedlichen Musikstilen (Zamba, Chacarera, Cueca, Guarania, Tango, Milonga u.a.). Das Duo hat 14 Stücke argentinischer Komponisten des beginnenden 20. Jahrhunderts ausgewählt (z.B. von Polo Giménez, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Aníbal Troilo, Máximo Barbieri, Horacio Salgán, Astor Piazzolla, Eduardo Falú sowie von Daniel Toro und Lito Nieva mit Ariel Petrocelli, aber auch von Kraayenhof und Dobal selber) und an einem Tag eingespielt. Die Interpretationen der beiden Musiker, die 1989 im Quartett Viento del Sur zusammen spielten und seit 2010 auch als Duo auftreten, greifen den wehmütigen Eindruck der Bilder des Booklets auf (z.B. Piazzollas wunderschönes „Solitude“, Falús anrührende „Zamba de la Candelaria“ oder Dobals versonnen-melancholisches „Remanso“), bleiben aber nicht in der nostalgischen Wehmut hängen. So überrascht Dobals „Cuando Despierto Mañana“ mit seiner spritzigen Polyrhythmik oder Salgáns dynamisches „A Fuego Lento“, aber auch Barbieris fröhliche Milonga „De Vuelta y Media“. Immer wieder leuchtet die feinfühlige Sensibilität der beiden Musiker für die von ihnen präsentierten Stücke auf, beide lassen sich und den Melodien Platz zur Entfaltung (obschon das Bandoneon klanglich zumeist im Vordergrund steht).
Auch wenn diese „alten Zeiten“ vorbei sind, ihr Geist lebt weiter, lädt ein zum Träumen, Lachen, Weinen und vielleicht sogar zum Tanzen. Aber nichts ist wirklich vorbei, wenn man sich erinnert und den Geist weiter trägt – und dafür sorgt das exzellente Duo. Bei manchen Stücken mag man sich vielleicht zunächst ein Quartett gewünscht haben, um deren Tiefe auszukosten: Klavier und Bandoneon sind jedoch klanglich so reichhaltig und beide Musiker so feinfühlig in ihrer Interpretation, dass sich nach mehrmaligem Hören ein zufriedenes Lächeln einschleicht – eigentlich fehlt nichts. Wunderbar wie es ist.
Laden die Stücke zum Tanzen ein? Nicht alle (auch wenn man natürlich zu allen tanzen könnte): Mich hat die Musik in den Bann des genießenden Zuhörens gezogen. – Aber Halt, gerade habe ich so ein Ziehen in der Fußspitze gespürt: „El Antigal“… („Ist doch gar kein richtiger Tango!“, „Stimmt, eine Zamba.“)
Carel Kraayenhof & Lavinia Meijer
The pure Pleasure of making music
08jan2016 – Leidsche Dagblad
by Hans Visser
The best classic cd of 2015?
Professionally musical and technical are clear criteria, but making a choice is also based on the sensible passion of the musician.
nr1. The ‘In Concert’ CD from, Carel Kraayenhof and Lavinia Meijer offers not only class but also contagious pleasure. They enjoy the freedom and use the harp and the bandoneón to give the pieces extra personality. On this live recording the listener is, figuratively speaking, seating on the stage.
Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble:
A powerful statement on the bandoneon
Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble
Liberacion (Bando Dreams)
The current situation in the world brings engagement back in pop music. Last week Bob Geldof announced his Band Aid project against Ebola, Izaline Calister and Leoni Jansen started their protest song tour ‘Barricade’ and Carel Kraayenhof’s latest album ‘Liberación’ was released. With this the greatest bandoneón player in the world is asking attention for all refugees who, forced by political or economical circumstances, had to leave home and loved ones behind.
‘This is how the tango originated, from the fusion-music of migrants; keeping alive the hope for a better future’, he stated on the CD booklet.
The CD starts with the sound of the sea, the symbol for a connection to freedom as well as a frightening escape route. Titles like ‘Aleppo’ and ‘Lampedusa’ say enough.
Not one instrument is so complex as the bandoneón. It plays rhythm and melody together and possesses a melancholic and resilient character at the same time.
Kraayenhof’s playing – vigorous, sad and tough – reflects in all buttons his powerful statement. Piano and strings surround him comforting and evocative sounds delivering powerful counter play. Even the widely known ‘Libertango’, that for composer Astor Piazzolla symbolized liberation from the traditional tango, now gets a beautiful new arrangement and with that, a new interpretation.
Mr. Geldof, may Kraayenhof also take part at the Band Aid event?
Carel Kraayenhof, ‘Liberación’
One of the reasons why the work of bandoneon player Carel Kraayenhof always intrigues, is that his music is never a given. His new CD ‘Liberación’, a tribute to freedom, anticipates a theatre production in which he, together with his magnificent ensemble, combines music and film around the significant theme: men fleeing from violence. The roots of his work are in the tango: exceptionally engaged music, brought to the concert halls by master such as Piazzolla and Pugliese. With beautiful melodies and arrangements he certainly does not renounce that basis.
This is Kraayenhof at his best, moving, comforting and involved in reality.
La Cadena CD REVIEW
By COR GLORIE
Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble
When the bandoneón starts to play in So Long Island, the first track of Liberación, you immediately hear that it is Carel Kraayenhof who touches the buttons. Is it the timbre of his instrument, his playing idiom, his way of composing, or a combination of these factors? I can’t figure it out, but striking it is.
On this CD Carel takes us on a trip around the world. Of course there are also tangos such as Revirado, El Corte and La Muerte del Angel, but the ensemble is not afraid of travelling to other continents or showing other intentions. What touched me most were the socially inspired numbers such as Cry for Freedom, dedicated to the fighters for equal rights between white and black. In this song a true tormented fight can be heard between bandoneon, piano and strings. Also in Lampedusa a threatening beat visualizes expressively the hardships of the boat fugitives during their struggle for life at sea. But yet Carel’s tango roots appear again in a new arrangement of Libertango. A dynamic ‘yumba’ piano twist pours a delicious “Pugliese sauce” over this Piazzolla classic. If there ever was a struggle between these two celebrities it has now been decided in favor of the tango.
Artist: Carel Kraayenhof
Record company: Bando Dreams
He will stay forever the musician who brought Maxima to tears. On his new album Liberación, bandoneón player Carel Kraayenhof is going, together with his ensemble, on a search for freedom and happiness. It is pretty much a given that a piece of composer Piazzolla is also present on the CD, the man who lifted the Argentine tango to a form of art.
Kraayenhof himself also signs for a number of compositions. He was inspired by Lampedusa and the African boat refugees who set foot on land in Italy. Ida y Vuelta is an homage to the Jewish writer Ida Vos, who during the Second World War as a young girl who had to go into hiding. Liberación is full of boundless music crying for freedom. Kraayenhof brings the numbers to life with his musicians full of passion and inspiration. Instrumental songs to dream of.
PETER VAN DE BERG
Antilliaanse Dagblad, nov 2014
Kraayenhof: tribute to freedom
By Giselle Ecury
On 28 October I attended, in Amsterdam, to the official presentation of the new album of bandoneonist Carel Kraayenhof and his ensemble. A month ago I met him during Millicent Smeets-Muskus’, better known as ‘Dudi’, book presentation. ‘Curacao is deep in our heart’ he confided to the audience at that time. He confirmed that now as well, by playing ‘Cry for freedom’.
He dedicated this number to Nelson Mandela and Tula, the leader of the slave uprising of 1795 on plantation Knip. Right there the tone was set for the afternoon: Kraayenhof and his ensemble want to stand for equal rights and freedom to everyone. And they do that by making music that touches straight to the heart.
This music comes straight from their hearts, and that you can feel. ‘Liberacion’ lives. Between the lines and the notes I start to understand the message: let’s be grateful for all the good we have in our life and for those who fought for that for us. Once back home I notice a very tender song in the klezmer ‘doina’-tradition, it is a tribute to the mother of violinist Bert Vos. The writer Ida Vos (1931-2006) survived the German occupation, but lost many school friends. This song is called ‘Rumeniher Volekh – Ida y vuelta’.
As a traveling musician Carel lets himself be inspired by the music and the people he encounters. He is deeply touched by the multitudes of refugees, which appear to be unstoppable. By their ways and becoming immigrants in another country, world music arises. When the Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble started making this album, two years ago, they didn’t even suspect that the release of it would take place at a moment when the refugee issue is more relevant than ever. The intense number ‘Lampedusa’ – the Italian island which is flooded by refugees from Africa searching for safety – is a proof of this. Just like ‘Aleppo’, a cry out against the warriors who, 100 years after the break out of the First Worldwar, still use chemical weapons causing devastation to the population and entire cities. At the same time it is a tribute to the man in Aleppo who places his piano, every day, among the debris and performs with a little choir. “Because this is the only positive thing we can do in our destroyed city: make music”. So hope prevails; and that you can also hear.
The attentive listening audience was treated with eleven of the eighteen tracks, under which ‘Libertango’, the ‘freedom tango’ (1973), arranged by Kraayenhof in the style of Osvaldo Pugliese; musician, politician and one of the great peacemakers of Argentina.
I think this album is a jewel, a variation of melancholy, nostalgia, tragedy, power and hope. Several times I was carried away, felt like dancing, I wanted to show that nobody can oppress the power of the human spirit. We always recover, especially when we feel united with each other by means of music. Every goodbye is the birth of something new. Carel Kraayenhof (1958) clearly enjoys what he is doing.
This goes for all his musicians: Bert Vos, 1st violinist and partner of also violinist (2nd) Iefke Wang; Juan Pablo Dobal, pianist; Jaap Branderhorst, double bass; and Jan Willem Troost, cello. They all have worked together, frequently and intensively, rehearsing in the Beemster. The result is magnificent. Music is a universal language, which everybody understands and senses. They show that they can spread that language as no one else.
And after coming home, while writing this column, the number ‘So many partings’ touches my soul. It is the number right before ‘Sabrosita’, the Aruban tumba by Rufo Wever, arranged by pianist/composer Randell Corsen. These sounds I can and want to literally take home with me. The next track is ‘Atardi Korsou ta bunita’ by Rudy Plaate, dedicated to Millicent Smeets-Muskus, who the ensemble remembers with bliss and gratitude. It isn’t spelled quite correctly on the cover, but I think that’s actually a bit charming. After all it is the work of men, mistakes are allowed. Like in quilting, not all stitches need to be perfect, because ‘only God makes no mistakes’.
As of the 1st of January this music will be performed in the new theatre show by Carel Kraayenhof and his ensemble: ‘Liberación’. As of the 31st of October the album is for sale. For more information you can visit, and enjoy, the website www.carelkraayenhof.com.
Carel Kraayenhof’s dream: unification
Much has been written about him. Roughly 55 million people from all over the world watched him play the bandoneón at the wedding of our present royal couple. He has performed with the greatest on earth. But what strikes the most about him, is his modest and open look, his honest simplicity and peace of mind, as if everything amazes him and keeps amazing him. Carel Kraayenhof. A guarantee for a good conversation.
By Giselle Ecury
As soon as Alkmaar is behind you, you cross vast polders, where cows are still in the meadows and sheep graze. Mills spin a northwester away. Will there be rain? On a cloudy Monday morning I’m on my way to his home, following the instructions of his wife and manager, Thirza Lourens. The statement: “Behind every successful man stands a strong woman” for sure applies to her, although she certainly will deny that. And yet I will state that. Because she is always there, arranging everything in an adequate way and she does that with a smile. Besides that she is caring. “I will give you one hour. I want Carel to have some rest before his next interview. Is that OK for you?” This last sentence says it all. She has also stayed true to herself and is simply kind. How easy can life be? And so I stand, after a short ride, in the middle of the North-Holland’s Beemster. By many people only known due to its’ delicious cheese, but perhaps among some elder people also because of Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater; who by using 43 windmills managed to transform this polder into dry land in 1612. Since 1999 the Beemster is on the Unesco World Heritage list.
This completes the circle for the Dutch boy who became a first class world musician and who, lovingly, received from the country Argentina the official name ‘Tanguero’ . In 2005 he also received in the name of the Argentinian parliament, out of the hands of the tango-poet Horacio Ferrer, the country’s highest cultural decoration for his inexhaustible effort for the Argentinian tango world wide. Later he was also named as Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau for his personal effort, vision and qualities with which our society provides from. In this way Kraayenhof and his Thirza not only search for connection, they also experience it. As if it should be that way. And that it is.
Actually, I know that for them it is not at all about decorations and praise. That is exactly why I want to mention it. Because it makes this great musician, who completely stayed true to himself and wants to keep it all close to his heart (and manages to do so) to come to a state of connection and interconnectedness, only more unique.
“If my bandoneon, in one way or another, could convince people to bring themselves to also play this instrument with pleasure, and maybe success, then I would know that my playing served a cause”. These were Carel’s words, after he told me about a special meeting on a tango-festival in the South of France. There a bearded Spanish speaking man left a group of friends and held Carel with tears in his eyes. He introduced himself as somebody who was able to work his way up to being a music teacher, thanks to a tango school in Buenos Aires helped by Kraayenhof. “And that’s why I am here now far away in the South of France. Who could ever have thought of that?”
These are heartwarming stories told by the man who now would like to unite refugees and immigrants, preferably also with the common Dutchman, so that new things can arise and our cultures can actually integrate. Halfway November there will be a unique cooperation between Refugee Work The Netherlands and the bandoneón player and his ensemble. “The different forms of art will help us in that matter: the drawing together, the writing of stories together, poetry. We should come forward more, make ourselves better known. The way it goes right now in the Netherlands …… It worries me”, he says. “There is much more than an economic system, in which we are urged to more and bigger. If we keep on going this way, the earth will soon be exhausted, there will be more dissatisfaction, the stream of refugees will increase immensely and not only be a problem for Lampedusa or for the fugitives themselves. The ethic morality should come first instead of always looking at the technical possibilities. Our hearts must begin to speak. Nowadays for instance, robots are being developed to help in the healthcare. Is this still ethical? I don’t think so. What appeals to me so much in Argentina? There people care for each other. With love. I saw that on Curaçao as well. That island has a big place in my heart. The island has something of the two worlds, in which I really feel at home. Although it start to sneak up on me that here I get more and more the feeling that I want to leave, because I miss the involvement that they have. What if you have suddenly must flee. Just think about it.
Kraayenhof, who from his eighth year learned to play the piano, feels for deprived children. His piano of those days has, in the meantime, introduced many other people to music. “An old instrument does not belong in a museum, to look at. An instrument should be played on.” And so, his piano is nowadays in Nijmegen, but will shortly be moved to Ter Apel, to an asylum for refugees.
Together with Lourens, Kraayenhof dedicates himself to the preservation of the bandoneon in Argentina. Too many instruments disappear there, because tourists take them as souvenirs. Together with local people they try to get as many instruments as possible back to Argentina. Also attention is given to training in maintenance and reparation of these instruments. This way unprivileged young people can learn a profession.
We talk about a project in Jujuy, a province in the northwest of Argentina, near the borders of Bolivia, Chili and the foothills of the Andes. Together with the Foundation Tango por los Chicos, started by a tango school in Engelen (near Den Bosch in The Netherlands), it became possible to gather bandoneóns, so that the children in Jujuy no longer have to play on cardboard instruments (this was also possible by holding a benefit concert during a salón evening).
“Do you know that it (the bandoneón) actually has its origins in Germany?”. Indeed Wikipedia tells me that the bandoneon was invented in 1854 in Germany and soon became a popular instrument in Italy as well. From there it probably ended up in Argentina via the season workers. There, the melancholic sound of the bandoneón fitted particularly the tango. In Germany the instrument disappeared during the Second World War. “Actually it is an immigrant” says Kraayenhof with a laugh. “And now that people know him, they learn more and more to appreciate him. So you see: music connects, speaks all languages, makes contact.” And not only that, it seems to have a healing effect on all our body cells. When I look at musicians, I always see (in spite of the concentration) the joy in creating something together, the interaction, eye contact.
I feel the sounds in my body and I can hardly sit still, whether it is a classical concert or the new album of Kraayenhof and his Sexteto Canyengue, with which he already performs about 25 years. Music always touches.
“It is great to perform for an audience that is so involved”, confirms Kraayenhof. “We experienced it on Curacao, now a year ago. There you can feel the love and pride for their own composers and musicians. To, there, play ‘Sabrosita’….” It is like listening for a moment to that piece, before Kraayenhof continues: “Or ‘Atardi Korsou ta Bunita’. That ‘softly singing’ from the audience. Then I feel the bond you have on such a moment. The solidarity. That is where we have to go world wide. That is a dream of mine, a deep desire. That we really leave the narrow minds behind and unify. Then nobody has to be lonesome or to flee.
LITTLE MOMENT OF HAPPINESS
Carel Kraayenhof lets himself be inspired by everything he feels, hears and experiences around him. It stimulates our curiosity.
Where would he have been with his thoughts during the creation of So Long, Island? Romantic, melancholic… it must have been a goodbye which, deep in his heart, did not make him happy.
And what did the bandoneon player feel by Libertango, that sounds like an intense march for peace?
Eighteen titles appear on Liberación, the album that will be officially presented tonight. With, among others, Ida y Vuelta (an homage to the Jewish writer Ida Vos) and Aleppo, from which hope as well as tragedy burst out of; the amount of emotion is high.
Kraayenhof precisely introduces the right moments for something light and cheerful. With this variation the bandoneon player reveals another angle of himself.
With Revirado he lifts the listener over the dark winter and brings the spring.
Celebration, happiness, but also fear and sorrow alternate in a high tempo in Liberación.
The Argentine tango may be the home base for Kraayenhof, but this time he dares to let go of his beloved Buenos Aires.
He takes the listener on a world trip.
Lonneke van der Genugten.