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CLASSICAL CORNER; November, 2007
The adventurous South Florida cellist Iris Van Eck has released an album of Works for Cello and Piano by Women Composers on the Eroica Classical Recordings label ( Van Eck has shone resplendently as a soloist in her innovative Chameleon Music series in Ft.Lauderdale. On this excellent recording, Van Eck’s deeply felt playing, warm tonal sheen, and high octane intensity are a real musical knockout. Dutch composer Henriette Bosmans’ Cello Sonata is a darkly complex, brooding piece. Van Eck plays it with great expressivity and pianist Arielle Vernede offers exquisite keyboard support. By contrast the lyrical outpouring of Louise Farrenc’s delightful Cello Sonata is all Mendelssohnian quicksilver lightness. Vernede’s limpid pianism and Van Eck’s feathery brightness literally glide through this wonderful souflee. Passacaglia on an Old English Tune by Rebecca Clarke (the first female composition student of Sir Charles Stanford at the Royal College of Music in 1907) is grave and formal with reverence for the music of Bach. Van Eck has produced a real winner! The music of these very gifted composers deserves greater exposure.

Van Eck’s superb Chameleon series features some of South Florida’s best chamber musicians playing rarely heard repertoire in the wonderfully intimate setting of the Josephine Leiser Opera Center in Ft. Lauderdale. For more information about this inventive three concert series, see

OPZIJ, June 2007

Classical music

Harmony, passion and adventure! That is what you experience when listening to this wonderful CD of music for cello and piano by Louise Farrenc, Henriëtte Bosmans and Rebecca Clarke.

The Sonata written in 1858 by Farrenc, a contemporary of Clara Schumann, is classically structured and delightfully romantic. The logical development from the first movement to the Finale is predictable, but sculpted so keenly and with such craftsmanship, that it remains intriguing.

Bosmans' sonata, dated 1919, begins playfully, but ends in a drama, full of fervor and passion. Such a transformation was typical for Bosmans who says more with just two instruments than many of her colleagues could with a complete orchestra.

Clarke's "Passacaglia on an old English Tune" dated 1941 only lasts about 5 minutes and is one of her last works. The melody (the English tune) develops into a wild dance and shows the uninhibited strength and personality of the composer. It's a pity that she stopped composing after her marriage!

This CD, a marvel of acoustics, was recorded in a church in Delft. Cellist Iris van Eck and Pianist Arielle Vernede play skillfully and with élan.

Patricia Werner Leanse

Frans Waltmans' Website, December 15, 2006

The two Sonatas for Cello and Piano that are featured on Iris van Eck (cello) and Arielle Vernède’s newest CD don’t exactly belong to the standard concert repertoire.

The first work on the CD was composed by Henriëtte Bosmans (1895-1952). Bosmans is no stranger in the Dutch Music circuit. The Henriëtte Bosmans Prize, an encouragement prize for young Dutch Composers, exists since 1994. Henriëtte Bosmans wrote her sonata for cello and piano when she was 24 years old. The work could be a homage to her father, Henri Bosmans, the principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He died when Henriëtte was only 6 months old. The work is written in late romantic style; it is passionate with technical virtuosity in combination with a foreboding and dark character. The built-in cyclical element in the composition, at the end of the last movement of the sonata, the beginning theme of the first movement returns, works as a release from a breathtaking embrace… finally solid ground under your feet. The way Bosmans uses this cyclic theme shows that Bosmans was a talented and intelligent composer who knew how to connect feelings with the intellect. Iris van Eck and Arielle Vernède use this element to the max and make this performance a very special one. The second work is by Jeanne-Louise Farrenc-Dumont (Paris 1804-1875): Sonata nr. 1 for cello en piano in B flat, opus 46 from the year 1861. Already at the age of 15 Farrenc studied composition with Anton Reicha at the Conservatoire de Paris. In 1842 she became professor for piano. She was the only woman in the 19th century to hold a position like that at the Conservatoire. Many well-known musicians from that era came from her piano class which she directed for 30 years. The form of her first Sonata can be called classical but it also holds elements of the French Romantics. All in all the work has a light touch, a joyous melodic approach and playfulness that invites the performers to really make music together and that opportunity is taken with both hands by the two soloists.

Iris van Eck and Arielle Vernède finish off their CD with a performance of a small musical masterwork, Passacaglia on an Old English Tune by Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979). Passacaglia (1941) is a very short work of less than five minutes. The use of the passacaglia form in this work together with the use of melodic material show that, not withstanding the short duration of the work, Clarke is a very gifted composer. This short work is a beautiful encore after these two admirable sonatas.

Frans Waltmans

Palm Beach Post; December 03, 2006

Shedding light on women composers

The season brings gifts from local classical groups, including Seraphic Fire (a live recording of its survey last season of the six Bach motets), the Ibis Camerata (a disc on Albany Records featuring University of Miami-related composers), and finally, the only one I have at this time, a record of three works for cello and piano by female composers.

The record, just out on Eroica, and called Works for Cello and Piano by Women Composers, features the cellist Iris van Eck, who directs Fort Lauderdale’s Chameleon concert series, which opens another season next week (details here). The pianist is Arielle Vernede, who like van Eck is a native of the Netherlands.

I’ve listened to this disc a couple times, and need to hear it some more to make myself more familiar with this music, but it’s certainly worth hearing, especially if you’re interested in rarely played works of the literature.

This disc opens with a Sonata from 1919 by the Dutch composer Henriëtte Bosmans (1895-1952). Bosmans was a pianist, and apparently quite a good one. She came from a musical family-her father was a cellist and her mother a pianist.

This sonata is a powerful, dark work, full of lovely, mournful melody and somber color. It's written in a post-Romantic style that doesn’t break much new ground for its time, but it’s committed, passionate music. The first movement, in particular, sounds like what Rachmaninoff would have written like if he was more like Fauré.

It's a good piece, with plenty of difficult work for both players, and it would make an attractive addition to the usual run of Beethoven and Brahms on the standard cello recital program.

The second selection on the disc is the Cello Sonata No. 1, Op. 46, of the French composer Louise Farrenc (1804-1875), written in 1857, is a fine work, skillfully and elegantly composed.

It's redolent of Mendelssohn (Felix and Fanny), Schumann and Beethoven, and idiomatically written for both instruments. The slow second movement has some nice harmonic surprises that add a touch of pathos to its serene beauty.

Last up is the Passacaglia on an Old English Tune by the English violist and composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979). This is an arrangement for cello of a viola original, and a good piece it is. Clarke was a real talent whose work should be played more often; her Viola Sonata is a masterful piece that always goes over well with audiences.

The majority of classical music has been composed by men, but there are many more women writers active these days (and here's a wiki list of the better-known names of the past centuries), and it won’t be too much longer before a great woman composer’s music enters the canon (Ellen Taaffe Zwilich? Kaija Saariaho? Sofia Gubaidulina?).

In the meantime, there are other composers besides the two who I'm guessing are most performed – America’s Amy Beach and France’s Camille Chaminade - whose work should be programmed more frequently, and this cello disc makes a good case for them.

This disc has spurred my interest in hearing more music by these writers - in particular the later music of Bosmans, which apparently underwent quite a stylistic switch in the late 1920s. For now, this disc serves as a good introduction, and I’m grateful to Iris van Eck for sending it along.

Greg Stepanich

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