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?
Today, November 7th, this 5 star review came out about the new CD Liberación at the Noord-Hollands Dagblad newspaper!
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.
We are happy to read another positive review on the Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble’s new CD Liberación. This one was published on the Dutch tango magazine ‘La Cadena’ (issued on early November 2014)
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.
This review was posted on the newspaper of 31st of October.
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.
On the 28th of October this great review was published at the Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf.
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.
From October 22 to 26 Carel and Thirza (his manager) were present at the WOMEX in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. This international world music forum takes place every 3 years in a different country. After the cold Kopenhagen, Santiago de Compostela was the center stage.
‘Carel Kraayenhof management and bookings’ had even its own stand!
It was a very successful week and we are looking forward to keeping up with all the great contacts we made. Many plans to come to take our music around the world.
Invited by Vondel CS Studios in Amsterdam, Het Klankcafé adds image to the sound. On Sunday November 9, recordings will take place of Het Klankcafé – visual radio; with the Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble and violin talent Tim de Vries.
There will also be a column by conductor Willem de Vriend about Bach, who succeeded in preventing a riot at the Vienna court by using music, and NRC Next columnist Merlijn Kerkhof will also join the program. He will talk about the ins and outs in the world of classical music nowadays.
Do you want to attend? Come on 9 November at 15.30 to Vondel CS (former Vertigo/filmmuseum in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam)
On the new CD Liberación, in which Carel worked on for over two years and was released at the end of October, there are many new compositions related to the theme ‘Freedom’. Two of these compositions are ‘Cry for Freedom’ and ‘Aleppo’.
Currently there are important talks being held between Carel Kraayenhof and the refugee assistance in The Netherlands looking into the possibility of Carel and his ensemble giving a concert, in november, to the Syrian refugees which are sheltered at the IJsselhallen in Zwolle. Carel did not have any idea that this could be a possibility two years ago when he started this project. He feels deeply with these people who had to leave everything behind (at times even their own families), fleeing from so much violence in their own country. Carel hopes that his music can bring some healing and distraction to the people.
But the main idea is not just to play a concert, pack up and leave. His dream is to “add something” to the refugees which will remain with them for the long run. Completing the dream is to gather music instruments and distribute them at the refugee camps, so that people who used to play music at home can go on bringing a bit of happiness to the their situation. Should you wish to know more about this, please follow Carel on Facebook or Twitter. You can also send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org