About the piano/flute duo Barend Schipper and Jan Prins
A review by James Strecker
Canadian music journalist, poet and author Website: jamesstrecker.com/words/
“A new CD titled ‘Visions and Dreams’, from pianist-composer Barend Schipper and flutist Jan Prins, certainly confirms two distinct but decidedly compatible personalities.
Their spontaneous interaction suggests a longstanding musical familiarity, and while Prins offers a delicately voiced yet commanding airy presence, Schipper seems intensely focused and economical in declaration because of, one suspects, his musical certainty.
Neither one, though an example of poise, shows restraint in depth of feeling, and together their implied intention seems to give spirit, however one interprets that concept, a voice.
At its heart, their music presents a continuum of ethereal momentum. It is solidly at ease with itself, always quietly elegant in realization, always compelling and unaggressively seductive. One senses always a story being told, with lives existing in different dimensions, be they delicately mystical, celebratory, or endangered. There is as much suggested here as declared and the music is thus
engaging in unfoldment as it hangs in resolution just beyond our grasp. One is drawn often to this CD and one gives in each time to its mesmerizing treasures.
In ‘Adoration of the Infant by the three magi’ by Rembrandt, the flute opens and continues in a touching interlude of love, one which is echoed and embraced by the piano. The two instruments seem combined in a gradual awakening to the awe of love.
‘Siesta in the small port of Cadaqués’ by Dalí is a tale told with musical phrases again taking on the character of words. The flute seems to awaken from -or is it to? - a mystery and these two musicians do seem engaged, even wedded, in dialogue.
‘Madonna of Port Lligat’ by Dalí has the flute’s melodic longing expressed in extended phrases, while the piano shares this microcosmic narrative excursion in what seems slowly gathered realizations. This piece is definitely an expression of inner spiritual space and is most beautiful in its sustained poise.
At over fourteen minutes, ‘Premonition of the Spanish Civil War’ by Dalí is thoroughly engaging and something of a sequenced novel in scope. It opens like an invitation to soar within an inner sky and then we have
suggestions of chaos and the urgencies of existence and then an articulation of menace and impending disaster. We hear all this in what seems human voices, voices that feel a cause for fear.
In all, this is music of the intelligent heart, rich with dignified emotion and very effectively employed musical smarts. One keeps listening and one continues to discover more, be it in musical expression or within one’s inner emotional landscape where one feels deeply and
appropriate words are hard to find.”
About Barend Schipper and Jan Prins
Barend Schipper is a composer and pianist. His style can best be described as intercultural art music.
He integrates different periods of classical music and traditional music from Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Oceania. Nature movements and body movement also surface as a part of his music vocabulary. This approach was first expressed in the orchestra work Suite Polynésienne which he composed at the age of 21. After studying with composer-conductor Willem Frederik Bon (assistent conductor Concertgebouw Orchestra), Barend continued his composition studies with Jacqueline Fonteyn (Brussels) and Einojuhani Rautavaara (Helsinki), two leading European composers of respectively modern and post-modern, neo romantic music. By then, Barend had finished his piano studies with concert pianist Maria Stroo, who was a regular soloist at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and who formed two violin-piano duos with concert masters of this orchestra; Theo Olof and Viktor Liberman.
As well as with musicians, Barend has collaborated with dancers, poets and painters and performed live on national radio. Barend’s music drew praise from Frans Brüggen, who was the conductor of the Orchestra of the 18th Century, Amsterdam, and from dancer and choreographer Sara Rudner, New York, who received the Bessie award for dance. For 25 years, he has given concerts of his music and recorded his work on twenty CDs and in a concert movie.
Jan Prins’ experience as a concert flutist is rooted in classical, Early, improvised and ethnic music. He studied to become a performing flutist with specialization in Early Music at the Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen, and attended masterclasses in traverso flute with Claire Fonteyne (USA) and Bart Kuyken (Belgium). Jan Prins has performed in concerts with various ensembles such as the Leonard da Vinci Consort and la Bande du Nord.
He has performed at the Holland Festival in Utrecht and live on the Dutch national classical Radio 4.
During his 40 years of service as a shaman, Jan developed a capacity for attuning his intuition to the subject he is dealing with. It assists him in playing music while in touch with the inspiration derived from a painting. During his many travels to Cuba, Nepal, Thailand, Bali and Africa, he played with traditional musicians in their original surroundings and setting. The phrasing, timing and the whole atmosphere of these experiences sound through in the music on this CD.
The collaboration of Jan and Barend
The collaboration of Jan and Barend is characterized by vitality, humor and a strong imagination. They have recorded music together since 2005 inspired by paintings of Rembrandt, Dalí, and Picasso, and also inspired by quotes of Lao Tse, Christ and Buddha, and by the art and culture of Australian Aboriginals.
You can listen to and buy their album here.