- Title: Eric Lammers plays Annette Kruisbrink
- Musician: Eric Lammers, gitaar.
- Identification: Studio The Gang DVD004.
- Recording: January 2021, Cecilia Kapellet, Oskarshamm Folkhögskola, Sweden.
- Year of Publishing: 2021.
Raganana by Annette Kruisbrink
A music DVD is a relatively rare medium for me. I started with vinyl in the seventies. It changed to CD in the nineties and then it became mp3 and streaming. Visual material never really came along, except for the static image on the large vinyl album cover, the smaller covers of the CD and the stamp format on the player screen for the mp3s.
In the corona crisis, the need for visual material increased slightly, because live performances were banned for a long time. That is why I consider a music DVD is a pleasant change from Audio-Only.
This time I will discuss the DVD Eric Lammers plays Annette Kruisbrink, a title that immediately reveals both the player and the composer of the music.
I have met Eric Lammers, who is living and working in Sweden, at the Guitar Festival Nordhorn 2017. I attended a masterclass with him. On stage he took part in the memorial concert for Roland Dyens who had died the previous year. I experienced him as a sensitive and analytical player. A feat that is quite apparent from his well finished performance of Annette Kruisbrink’s music.
The Dutch composer/guitarist Annette Kruisbrink now has more than 400 compositions to her name. This DVD shows and plays an interesting anthology of her work. She writes in the contemporary genre, but the spectrum of her pieces shows that contemporary is a very broad concept indeed. So, it is not purely experimental music with sounds that by definition break with the previous style period, as many people think and experience “modern music” to be.
The DVD starts with Seis Pavanillas, a playful wink to the Pavanes from the early music. Fragments of old masters such as Milan, Da Milano, Van den Hove, Dowland and Sanz are incorporated in the music in a contemporary context. A kind of pastcontemporary. Nice to listen to.
Oración Sephardi is a lament in the idiom of Sephardic music, the music of the Jews who in the past became an illegal population group due to the ouster decree of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. They had to leave Spain and Portugal on punishment of death, unless they converted to Christianity. As a result, many “Portuguese” Jews eventually ended up in Amsterdam. The piece alternates meditative parts with characteristic folk music-like fragments, with a particular Middle Eastern sound.
Jimnastics is an almost five-minute exercise session dedicated to the guitarist and composer Jim ten Boske. When you’ve played this piece, you are completely warmed up! Here the visuals from the DVD offer an interesting insight into the subtle but quite intensive left- and right-hand exercises in minimal-music style.
Keramix is a small suite of six movements that clearly shows the role of rest, muting and silence in the music. A number of movements have a meditative character, a few strongly alternate between rest and unrest. The pieces are very narrative to me.
Raganana breathes the atmosphere of the Indian Raga, a classical music form from India. Characteristic of this piece is what the English call drone, a repeated musical line with a broad slow beginning and a gradually increasing tempo towards the climax, before dying out in the tranquillity of the beginning. The music gives me a strong Ravi Shankar feeling.
Rose Hip Rhapsody. They are radishes, when you nibble on them it suddenly becomes sharp on your tongue. One loves them, the other hates them. That sharp contrast is audible in the piece as well. It is strange, in the quiet passages I like piece, in the sharp and loud passages less so. Anyway, I can envision an adventure with this piece.
In my opinion Sonata 44 is the piece that demands the most attention and concentration from the listener. The lines are quite long, sometimes hard to follow, kind of like the ones you find with José’s Sonata, and the visuals clearly show that there is quite some technical challenge in this piece, for player and listener alike.
Nocturnal is an adventurous piece in the sense of: What comes next and how will the mood develop? Maybe it’s strange, but in many cases that I spot a lack of traditional musical structure, I start playing along a story in my mind. That worked fine with this piece and made it enjoyable.
The recording on the DVD is modest and clean, I don’t hear any unnecessary reverb-effects. I do wonder if the sound on the DVD is somehow compressed. For this purpose, I should listen to the CD next to it to check if I hear a difference. I was forced to listen to the DVD via computer and headphones, obviously a computer is not an audiophile sound device.
What do the DVD visuals add to this recording? As a guitarist you can get an impression of the technical requirements of the pieces by looking at the hand movements. Precise fingerings are a bit more difficult to see because the camera remains fairly far away from the player for a significant part of the time.
For non-guitarists, I have difficulties in judging the visuals, what do people look at during a concert? To be honest, during concerts I sometimes close my eyes to stay inside the music.
I think the visuals have a little lack of contrast, the background is quite gloomy and the lighting seems to be difficult, especially if the guitarist is wearing dark clothes. And it strikes me, because Eric Lammers plays from sheet music, that there is less visual contact with the guitarist for the viewer. That makes the visuals a little bit inaccessible.
The DVD menu is simple and functional, although the play button (right arrow) is slightly confusing, as you can’t see which track you’ve selected. When you click on a track icon, the DVD starts playing immediately, so that the play button seems redundant.
The information on the DVD cover clearly describes both the player and the composer. The story about the compositions themselves is short yet informative. I came across a number of names of competition prize winners from the Nordhorn Guitar Festival to whom Annette Kruisbrink had dedicated a composition as a part of the competition prize. In this way she gives this festival a unique accent.
In conclusion: I think the DVD is a well-played and entertaining anthology of the work of Annette Kruisbrink. Definitely suitable for a wider audience than the hardcore contemporary listener. The audio element is successful in that regard, the visual element a little less in my opinion.