press enter to search

From Beethoven to gamelan: Dutch pianist to perform recitals in three cities

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, May 9, 2019  /  02:49 pm
From Beethoven to gamelan: Dutch pianist to perform recitals in three cities

Classical night: Dutch pianist Wouter Bergenhuizen will perform a series of recitals in three Indonesian cities. (Courtesy of YouTube/-)

Dutch pianist Wouter Bergenhuizen might have a special place in his heart for the works of Beethoven, but his musical tastes are diverse and include traditional Indonesian music, particularly gamelan orchestra pieces.

The pianist, an avid listener of Indonesian music, pointed out how Debussy was inspired by gamelan and tried to imitate the sounds of gamelan instruments in many of his works.

“For me the sound [of gamelan] is exotic, yet very pure, so beautiful. I think it’s very important to keep our traditions alive,” he told The Jakarta Post.

“On the other hand, through modern technology and the internet, it has become so easy to share, discover and listen to so much wonderful music that is performed all around the world, and its influence is a treasure.”

Bergenhuizen has arrived in Jakarta to get ready for a series of recitals in three Indonesian cities.

His tour begins at Erasmus Huis in Jakarta on May 11 and heads to the Wesley Methodists Church in Medan, North Sumatra, on May 13 before coming to a close at the Aceh Museum in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, on May 17.

In the recitals, Bergenhuizen will perform the works of three composers: Beethoven’s “Sonata Op. 110”, Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” and Debussy’s “Images 1er Livre.”

Born in Maastricht in 1988 to a musical family, Bergenhuizen learned the piano at the age of 4 and the clarinet at the age of 7. Three years later, he added the violin to his repertoire.

Recognized for his outstanding skills in these three instruments, he was accepted into the young talent department of the Conservatory of Maastricht at the age of 12. He eventually settled on the piano as his main instrument at the Conservatory of Amsterdam at age 16.

Bergenhuizen made his solo debut in 2013 with the South Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra, performing “Totentanz” by Franz Liszt. He has since become a regular guest of the orchestra.

He was also the only Dutch contestant to reach the semifinals of the 2017 International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Utrecht.

Wouter BergenhuizenWouter Bergenhuizen (Courtesy of Erasmus Huis/-)

The pianist, who currently teaches classical piano at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, likens a good concert to eating at a nice restaurant, saying that if the pieces were too similar – whether it is created by one composer or adheres to one style, time period or nationality – it could easily fall flat.

“Therefore I always try to choose a nice mix of very different works. Beethoven’s ‘Sonata Op. 110’ is a highly emotional work with a great sense of architecture. It is a very deep and personal story, told in music. As a contrast, the more romantic piece by Grieg is made from short, individual dances – each with its very own character,” he said. 

“Finally, the French composer Debussy takes us to a completely different world of sound, colors and atmospheres with the three ‘Images’ he composed in 1905.”

With that in mind, Bergenhuizen said he still had a special place in his heart for the works of Beethoven, noting that he would never get bored of the German composer’s works, as he discovers something new with each performance.

With his recital in Indonesia, Bergenhuizen said no special preparations were in place, though he is aware of the different atmospheres of each venue.

He said beyond just the audience and hall, the occasion could influence his choice of program.

“However, most important is the admiration, passion and connection I feel for a certain piece,” Bergenhuizen said.

“When I really fall in love with a piece of music, then I just have to play it. So in that sense I don’t behave differently when I play in Indonesia. I just do what I love, and I want to share that with people.” (ste)