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Pauline Oostenrijk — “The Notes Are Swallows” (Cobra Records, 2020)

Abstract:

The genesis of my latest album, “The Notes Are Swallows,” released under Cobra Records in 2020, is rooted in the forgotten compositions of Dutch oboist Bernard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer. Crafted during the early 20th century, these solo oboe pieces were originally dedicated to Jaap Stotijn, a pivotal figure in Dutch oboe history. Motivated by a desire to revive these overlooked works, my journey became a personal connection to Stotijn’s legacy and a commitment to preserve the essence of the Dutch oboe tradition.

To breathe life into this project, I explored new dimensions, discovering forgotten piano pieces by the same composer that resonated with the thematic essence of the oboe compositions. This led to a unique fusion of oboe and piano, creating a harmonious dialogue between the two instruments. Further thematic inspiration was drawn from Dutch literature, with poignant poems integrated into the album. The resulting project seamlessly blends solo oboe pieces with piano interludes, creating a captivating narrative reflecting the interconnectedness of Dutch culture, nature, and art during that specific period.

A distinctive aspect of the album is the inclusion of poems by a contemporary Dutch poet, translated into English, adding depth to the cultural tapestry. Augmenting the collection with works by Alexander Voormolen expanded the project, culminating in a 35-minute exploration of Dutch art and culture. The playful rendition of Voormolen’s Pastorale serves as a lighthearted homage to the collaborative spirit in classical music.

In essence, “The Notes Are Swallows” is my personal mission to act as an ambassador for a specific period in Dutch culture. Integrating music and poetry, the album encapsulates the spirit of a bygone era, resonating with contemporary audiences. The positive reviews received attest to the success of this endeavor, affirming its significance in the broader landscape of classical music. In conclusion, “The Notes Are Swallows” stands as a testament to the enduring power of music, celebrating the Dutch oboe tradition and the interconnectedness of the arts. It breathes life into forgotten compositions, inviting listeners to join me in discovering the beauty and richness of Dutch musical heritage, encapsulated in delicate notes gracefully taking flight like swallows in the wind.

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Publication date:

ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music

The interplay between an artist and their chosen repertoire often shapes a narrative that transcends time and cultural boundaries. My latest album, “The Notes Are Swallows,” released under Cobra Records in 2020, is a culmination of a deeply personal project that has been years in the making. As the interpreter of this musical journey, I find great joy in sharing the genesis and significance of this endeavor.

The inspiration for this album arose from the forgotten compositions of Dutch composer Bernard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer, who crafted exquisite solo oboe pieces during the early half of the 20th century. These compositions were originally dedicated to Jaap Stotijn, a luminary figure in Dutch oboe history, credited with founding the now diminishing Dutch oboe style. In my pursuit to revive these beautiful yet overlooked works, I felt a strong connection to the legacy of Stotijn and a responsibility to preserve the essence of the Dutch oboe tradition.

The compositions, aptly termed “rustic miniatures,” paint musical portraits of Dutch landscapes, imbuing the listener with a sense of meditation and atmosphere. This desire to reintroduce this repertoire to the world, coupled with the question of whether a solo oboe CD alone would suffice, led me to explore new dimensions for the project.

Simultaneously rekindling my passion for piano, I serendipitously discovered forgotten piano pieces by the same composer, echoing the thematic essence of the oboe compositions. This revelation became the catalyst for a unique fusion of oboe and piano, creating a harmonious dialogue between the two instruments. The theme of Dutch nature and landscapes further evolved as I delved into the world of Dutch literature, unearthing poignant poems that resonated with the musical motifs.

The resulting project seamlessly integrates solo oboe pieces with interludes of piano, creating a captivating narrative that reflects the interconnectedness of Dutch culture, nature, and art during that specific period. The album, encompassing around thirty-five minutes of music, prompted me to contemplate its completeness. Subsequently, I decided to augment the collection with works by Alexander Voormolen, a contemporary of Sigtenhorst Meyer, whose compositions also depicted animals and landscapes.

One of the distinctive aspects of the album is the inclusion of poems by a Dutch poet contemporaneous with the composer. With the invaluable assistance of a translator, these poetic gems have been translated into English and find their place in the album’s booklet. This integration of music and poetry serves as a testament to my commitment to preserving and disseminating the rich cultural tapestry of Dutch art.

A noteworthy addition to the album is the playful rendition of Voormolen’s Pastorale, a piece for oboe and piano. The recording process, marked by the unique challenge of playing with oneself, resulted in a surprising and delightful outcome. While the inclusion of this piece adds a lighthearted touch, it also pays homage to the collaborative spirit inherent in classical music.

In essence, “The Notes Are Swallows” is more than a collection of meticulously curated compositions; it is my personal mission to act as an ambassador for a specific period in Dutch culture. Through this musical and literary exploration, I aim to encapsulate the spirit of a bygone era, allowing it to resonate with contemporary audiences. The fantastic reviews received by the CD attest to the success of this endeavor, affirming its significance in the broader landscape of classical music.

Conclusion

In conclusion, “The Notes Are Swallows” stands as a testament to the enduring power of music to transcend time and borders. It is an homage to the Dutch oboe tradition, a celebration of the interconnectedness of the arts, and a heartfelt endeavor to breathe life into forgotten compositions. As I embark on this journey through the echoes of the past, I invite listeners to join me in discovering the beauty and richness of Dutch musical heritage, encapsulated in the delicate notes that gracefully take flight like swallows in the wind.

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