More Masterpieces from Jan van Gilse
This month we add another chapter to our rediscovery of a truly significant Dutch composer of the early twentieth century. Our releases of Jan van Gilse’s symphonies have revealed a composer of emotional depth with his own personal style. He was by no means a musical innovator but stood foursquare on the foundation of tonal late romanticism and wrote music of dazzling beauty. His sumptuous, romantic, and ravishing orchestral music abounds in pathos, drama, and passion. Between 1927 and 1939 his Dance Sketches for Piano and Small Orchestra were performed about twenty times. The orchestra consisting of thirty instrumentalists is very much treated as an ensemble of soloists in the strings and in the winds. The difficult piano part and the transparent chamber orchestra operate as complete equals and thus move toward the old understanding of »concerted musical action.« The composer formed his Paraphrase on the basis of various dance forms, interpreting them in his own way and no doubt also with ironic delight. His Variations on a St. Nicholas Song earned him fame with the broad public – not only because the work was available both for orchestra and for piano four hands. The theme of the piece is the popular children’s song »Zie ginds komt de stoomboot uit Spanje weer aan« (»Over there the steamboat from Spain again arrives«) and appealed to the whole of Dutch society.