No ordinary Sunday morning

Door Maartje Goes

Viola player León van den Berg and clarinetist Bruno Bonansea both play in the Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestra. In between a crazy schedule of rehearsals and concerts I managed to catch them to ask about the chamber music concert they are also preparing. León and Bruno put together the second concert of the Music for Breakfast series, a collaboration between De Doelen and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. A concert that is meant to be everything but just an ordinary Sunday morning!

León has been with the orchestra for three years now and recently moved to Rotterdam. Bruno has already been in the orchestra for about six years. He moved to the Netherlands from France together with his girlfriend, who plays in the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Together they have a daughter and normally the three of them eat pancakes every Sunday morning. This Sunday no pancakes for Bruno, but chamber music instead. Together with León he put together a program of three very interesting chamber music pieces. 

Bruno and León are no strangers to each other, but their friendship didn’t start right away.
L: ‘I had just started with the orchestra and after the first concert we had together, we were in the dressing room. Every musician has their own locker and the one that they gave to me was very close to Bruno’s. Before I entered, this locker was not in use, so suddenly Bruno had to share his space and felt a bit limited.’
B: ‘I didn’t know if this guy could speak French, so we just spoke a couple of words like hello, sorry, bye. After one week, León was suddenly talking in French. From that moment on it was very easy to talk to each other and I thought: he is actually a very nice guy!’

Playing chamber music is not something new for Bruno and León, but it is interesting for them to play with their colleagues of the orchestra because they are not a regular chamber music ensemble.
B: ‘I think this chamber music time is also very precious and valuable for the orchestra. You get a good connection with your colleagues and you get to know them better in a different setting. This experience will also benefit the orchestra. As wind players we often have solo’s and interesting parts and we are a little bit more free compared to the string sections, who are more in groups. Their life is the group, so sometimes the opportunity to play chamber music gives them more freedom.’

According to Bruno and León, making a program is always a balance between giving food to the musicians and giving food to the audience. It is a process of finding pieces that you want to put together and search for what is connecting them. The pieces they chose for the program are: Glazoenov – Rêverie orientale, Penderecki – Clarinet Quartet and Prokofjev – Quintet. 
B: ‘I really wanted to play the Prokofvies Quintet one time in my life with a dancer, because this piece was originally a little ballet. So for this piece we work together with a contemporary dancer.’
L: ‘You can still hear that it started out as a ballet piece, because it has a dancing character. You can imagine very well that it was used to accompany dance and ballet. That makes it very interesting to work on, to depart from that en to investigate it. ‘

B: ‘I also had the dream to play the Penderecki Quartet. This piece is not often played, but is very interesting, also for clarinet.’
L:  ‘Penderecki is mostly known for the music he composed for famous horror movies like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Shining’. His work is really interesting and creates a special atmosphere.’

L: ‘Prokofiev and Penderecki are both a bit difficult to understand, so at the beginning of the concert we wanted to offer the audience a more accessible piece. We ended up choosing Glazoenov for the beginning. What the pieces by Glazoenov and Penderecki share is that they both really use musical scenery. The music creates an ambiance and there is space for the audience to imagine what it could depickt.’
B: ‘I also found this recording of Martin Fröst and Janine Jansen that played the Penderecki Quartet in Sweden. They are playing in a quite small setting, but behind them is a glass window where you can see the view of nature. They really use this image to set the ambiance and by doing this the music already becomes much more accessible.’

So does this program really fit the Sunday morning vibe? 
L: ‘I think the first piece really does. That is a nice and quiet start, but the rest of the program is more challenging. It will not be a general Sunday morning with laying back kind of music.’
B: ‘This was also the challenge for us. I like to not propose music that is too easy for the audience. I also organise a festival in France and I’m always looking to provoke the audience a little bit. It’s not like you come and you eat the same food everywhere. You get something new and different with us. We hope that people will also think about the music afterwards. Maybe they will dislike it, but we hope we can provoke a discussion. Afterwards we are also open to talk with the audience about the music and feeling they end up with.’
L: ‘I hope that the audience will realize in the end that it was a very special experience that was out of the ordinary.’

Curious about the concert? Look here for more information and tickets. The concert will take place on November 21 at 10.30 AM and is free for friends of 24classics.

Picture by: Bruno Bonansea

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