As the world’s most adventurous recorder player, Erik plays all kinds of music. So don’t hesitate to make proposals yourself! Below are some projects Erik is undertaking:
The show you must see!
Virtuoso Erik Bosgraaf plays The Four Seasons as easily as if Vivaldi had created these demanding violin concertos for the recorder. A conductor is not needed, Bosgraaf prefers to lead the group himself, in the interest of lively interaction between the soloist and the ensemble. The adventure doesn’t stop there. He has produced a multimedia show with Vivaldi’s masterpiece at its center, in cooperation with film makers Paul and Menno de Nooijer,. The film is full of visual poetry. At some points the images accord with the story behind Vivaldi’s programme notes, at others they are inspired by free association. The audience not only goes through the four seasons of the year, this is also a journey through life, from early childhood to old age. Sometimes the De Nooijers use live projection, on Bosgraaf’s body for instance. Between the concertos the recorder soloist improvises, or exciting electronic soundscapes are heard. The most astonishing thing about this daring ode to imagination is that the extra layers do not distract from Vivaldi’s ingenious music, which is treated with all respect. In their evocative beauty, they establish a natural ‘counterpoint’ with the score.
A short teaser:
This new programme of Cordevento’s focusses on French music from the beginning of the 18th century, a period during which the design of the recorder as we know it today was perfected by the Hotteterre family. As an homage to this famous dynasty, there are works by them as well as by their colleagues. The repertoire of Tombeau is performed at the rarely heard pitch of a’=392 Hz, a whole tone lower than the current pitch, which gives the sound a special, ‘deep’ character. The instruments included are – apart from recorders – baroque guitar (Louis XIV’s favorite instrument, which he played himself), harpsichord, theorbo and (discant)gamba.
Several composers have created a recorder concerto especially for Erik Bosgraaf. A few ear-catching examples:
The Dutch composer Willem Jeths (1959) wrote a Concerto for Erik Bosgraaf in which the recorder is combined with a Mahlerian symphonic world. ‘It has become one of my most personal and biographical works and has an enormous emotional impact’, Jeths says. He associates the recorder with both innocence and beauty, and connects the tension between the vulnerable recorder and the grand orchestra to his memories as a young child finding his way in a hostile environment. Jeths, like so many other people, has a classic love/hate relationship with the recorder. Thus the piece starts off with dramatic blasts in the orchestra followed by piercing solos in the highest register of the instrument. Later on the recorder is accompanied in its softest registers by a glass harmonica and celesta. The melancholy feeling that goes with memories is traditionally associated with the recorder. The instrument features in 17h-century Vanitas paintings as a symbol for the dead body: without a person blowing air into it, it cannot sound. In Jeths’s brilliant orchestration of the Concerto, the theme of death and childhood also comes back as a faint echo of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder.
World premiere (starts at 32’33):
Amsterdam, Royal Concertgebouw, December 20, 2014
Release (live recording): Challenge Records
Melbourne, Australia, May 6, 2017
Duisburg, Germany, September 20 & 21, 2017
The Scottish composer and pop musician Anna Meredith, hailed as ‘one of the most innovative minds in modern British music’, wrote a piece called Origami Songs for Erik Bosgraaf. It was co-commissioned by the Borletti Buitoni Trust (Bosgraaf having been its Award winner in 2009) and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. The intricate Japanese art of origami was the starting point for this set of ‘songs without words’. Origami Songs is made up of five three-minute miniatures themed on the basic sets of folds that are the foundation for the classic origami shapes. Bosgraaf plays a different type of recorder for each movement, ranging from sopranino to bass recorder. The accompanying ensemble consists of clarinet, trombone, harpsichord and strings. In the first movement, string players are required to play bird whistles, in the final movements the orchestral musicians play ‘paper’, which gives rise to a special effect. While recognizing Bosgraaf’s acclaimed virtuosity, Meredith comments that her key focus was on his intense musicality and ability to bring to the fore the character and atmosphere of these individual miniature sound worlds.
The eminent Dutch composer and jazz musician Theo Loevendie (86) has written a recorder concerto for Erik Bosgraaf, entitled Nachklang. What makes the piece extra special, is the size of the accompanying ensemble, for which Loevendie chose the same combination of instruments as Johann Sebastian Bach did in his Brandenburg Concerto No. 3: 3 violins, 3 violas, 3 violoncellos, double bass and harpsichord (obbligato, in this case). Although inspired by Bach and the baroque era, the concerto is not conceived in a neo style, on the contrary. This is one hundred percent Loevendie, a crisp piece with rhythmically vigorous movements embracing a slow movement. Truely contemporary music, it is in its playfulness accessible to a broad public. The work was premiered with a baroque orchestra but can also be played with modern strings. Moreover, it can be expanded to more symphonic proportions by being performed with multiple strings (two or three) to a part. Nachklang would combine perfectly with one of the Brandenburg Concertos by Bach, ideally No. 3. Or, in No.5, Erik Bosgraaf can play the traverso part on a voice flute, a recorder in D. With one extra recorder player, No. 4 would be another possibility. And let’s not forget Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks.
A filmed impression of the first rehearsal period can be watched here:
As a matter of course, Erik performs all the concertos that were composed for the recorder during the Baroque era: Vivaldi, Telemann, Sammartini, etcetera. He also arranges concertos originally intended for other instruments, which was normal practice in that period. For instance he arranged Bach concertos, asking himself: what might Bach have done, or could he have done, if he had written concertos for the recorder?
Erik Bosgraaf is a fervent advocate of Georg Philipp Telemann. His repertoire includes all of Telemann’s recorder sonatas (recorded with Francesco Corti), concertos and suites, the trio sonatas for recorder and violin, the double concertos with recorder, and the solo fantasias (originally for flute).
Erik Bosgraaf’s breathtaking recording of Der Fluyten Lust-hof (‘The recorder’s pleasure garden’) by the 17th-century Dutch composer Jacob van Eyck brought about his international breakthrough in 2007. For this recording, he worked with the world’s leading Van Eyck specialist, musicologist Thiemo Wind. Most of Van Eyck’s pieces are virtuosic sets of variations on the popular tunes of his time. As Utrecht’s municipal carillonneur he played them on the bells. As a recorder player, he entertained the burghers strolling in St John’s Churchyard (Janskerkhof) on summer evenings. Van Eyck was a popular musician avant la lettre.
In 2016, a chapter was added to the adventure, JACOB 3.0, giving a completely new twist to Van Eyck’s musical legacy. Erik Bosgraaf, DJ Arjen de Vreede (DJ DNA) and laptop artist Jorrit Tamminga created a musical project that not only brings Van Eyck to life again, but thanks to the use of six turntables and a laptop computer also connects him to the music of today. In a contemporary style, these three born musicians enter into a dialogue with four centuries of popular music. Click here for an impression.
“Bosgraaf’s virtuosity is stunning, as is his artistry.”~ Gramophone ~
“This man can do anything! so inspired, and technically impeccable. He also plays a lot of contemporary music. That makes the difference, I think.”~ Frans Brüggen (†) ~