Can, in the 21st century, the classical tradition be revived?

Nicolas Poussin: The inspiration of the poet

A GROUNDBREAKING RECORDING PROJECT
The composer John Borstlap, already pioneering many years for a revival of the classical tradition in music, together with the well-known international record label BIS and the prominent German chamber orchestra the Kölner Akademie, propose a recording project with the name ‘Renaissance’. This project is a contribution to the various efforts to inject new life into contemporary classical music, by exploring the symphonic tradition which has produced so much inspiring repertoire, and by interpreting it anew for the present and future.

For this project, sponsorship is necessary, and interested parties are invited to consider taking part in a groundbreaking artistic adventure which opens-up new possibilities of renewing the repertoire. In the present times, when conventions of the art form are questioned and the need is felt to reposition classical music as an art form within a continuously developing modernity, this project addresses fundamental questions which have burdened the art form since the Second World War, like: how can values of the modern world be reflected in music? and how can musical values of different times acquire a new life today and in the future?

The European angle

John Borstlap’s music is strongly related to the European idea: it is Europe’s culture which defines the nature of its civilization. Therefore, this project transcends national and temporary boundaries, which is apparent from the various influences which inform the music to be recorded: the Austro-German classical tradition, and the French tradition of the period 1890-1914 when it reached its apogee. The project is a contribution to a historically-informed European cultural identity, which should include contemporary art that is related to Europe’s living heritage.

“Creating a sense of belonging will be the strongest cement for Europe.”

(French president Emmanuel Macron).

Sponsoring

For the financial parties involved there will be interesting benefits, to be negotiated with both BIS and the Kölner Akademie. The plan is to extend the project with follow-up recordings at a later stage.Given the recent successes with both players and audiences of Borstlap’s music (premières of ‘Solemn Night Music’ by the Dallas Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic under star conductor Jaap van Zweden in 2016), and the impressive qualities of the record company and the orchestra – both internationally acclaimed, it is to be expected that this recording project will be welcomed by classical music lovers internationally.

Parties, interested to be involved in this unusual project, can contact the composer through the contact form on this website.

Information on the works

For this project, the following works will be recorded:

  1. Symphony nr I (duration 20′)
  2. Symphony nr III (duration 35′)

John Borstlap‘s first symphony is a short, one-movement work in which a broad range of different musical elements are brought together. It was written for his Degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge in 1986-88, and performed various times in Holland in the ‘nineties by the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra under Hartmut Haenchen, with strongly positive audience responses.

The third symphony of John Borstlap was commissioned by the Kammersymphonie Berlin and finished in 2013 but has not been performed as yet by the KSB due to financial difficulties of the orchestra. The work is a full-blooded new interpretation of the Viennese classicism of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, but seen as from a much later perspective which gives well-known formulas a new musical meaning. The work has three movements: an opening allegro followed by an andante, and a complex allegro finale.

RECORD COMPANY

BIS Records

The leading record label for classical music in Scandinavia.

ORCHESTRA

The Kölner Akademie takes you on a journey through classical music: expressive, virtuosic and exact in every detail .

CONDUCTOR

Internationally renowned conductor Michael Alexander Willens, has been awarded numerous prizes. Known and lesser known composers are impressively represented by this period instrumental ensemble.

"I think he is one of the truly remarkable intellects of our time, a serious and inspired composer, and a person with an unusual grasp of the role of the artist in general, and the composer in particular in the cultural conditions that have developed in modern Europe. – JB’s voice… is the voice of European culture itself."
Sir Roger Scruton
British philosopher and musicologist, author of ‘The Aesthetics of Music‘ (Oxford University press
"The music is gorgeous – by its own right – it’s gorgeous and beautifully written. The instrumentation is reminiscent of Schreker and fin de siècle Vienna at its most seductive."
Dr Michael Haas
former producer at a.o. EMI, DG and project leader of the Decca Entartete Musik Series, currently Director of the Exil Arte Centre, Vienna
"….. a brilliant thinker in the field of musical philosophy, as I could conclude from his great essay Recreating the Classical Tradition. Among the composers who seek new ways, I appreciate the music of John Borstlap as a very important voice."
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang-Andreas Schultz
philosopher, musicologist, composer and former lecturer at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg
"Borstlap believes in the possibility of connecting with the classical-romantic tradition, and I understand his compositions as a convincing proof that nowadays such connection can be achieved, without reverting to the eclecticism of style copies or (postmodern) style collages. His music shows a composer who creates a music of highly sensual attractiveness, but who also has full intellectual mastery over the material which is his starting point."
Prof. Dr. Andreas Dorschel
philosopher and lecturer in musical aesthetics, Head of the Institute for the Aesthetics of Music at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Graz
"I really admire the musical fluency of expression and the way he revisits the familiar but constantly turns it in new directions. The technical resources necessary for this to happen in a convincing musical way are quite formidable."
John Casken
composer and Prof. of Music, University of Manchester
"I was immediately captured by the way he creates music. John Borstlap is the rare sort of personality who uses musical language to express, with great originality, his spiritual message."
Libor Pesek
Conductor Laureate of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
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