S O L O P R O G R A M S
1. Jazz influences in 20th-Century Piano Music.
This program, the content of which is varying constantly, has been performed by Marcel Worms since 1992 in the Netherlands and abroad. It's an anthology of works from the modern-classical repertory, which have been influenced by some degree by jazz. Besides works by famous composers like Strawinsky, Milhaud, Hindemith, Ives and Gershwin also pieces by lesser-known colleagues like Finnissy, Nancarrow, Schulhoff, Rzewski and Antheil are on the program. Transscriptions of solo's by jazzpianists like Bill Evans, Art Tatum and Errol Garner are performed to compare the works by contemporary composers to the originals of their jazz-colleagues.
2. Blues for piano
Marcel Worms is engaged already for a long time in the modern-classical repertory which has been influenced by jazz. Because of the prominent position of the Blues in jazz it seemed an attractive idea to him to commission a number of Dutch composers to write him a Blues or blueslike piece. The first series of Blues was ready by the end of 1996 and was premiered at the BIMHUIS, the foremost jazz stage in Amsterdam. From then on also composers from countries where Marcel Worms gave concerts were invited to write a contribution to the project. A second series of Blues from different countries was premiered in the Icebreaker, Centre for modern music in Amsterdam in December 1997. At this moment some 200 new Blues from about 50 different countries. In almost all of these countries Marcel Worms has performed his bluesprogram. From them one can get an idea of what the Blues means nowadays for the contemporary composer. From the comparison of Blues by composers from different countries the different cultural backgrounds will reveal themselves quite clearly.
Most of the Blues are composed note by note but in some of them the performer is supposed to improvise. This makes the program suitable for the classical concerthall as well as for the Jazzstage. All these concerts were broadcast by radio.
This is the repertory list of this program.
The programs # 1 and # 2 can be combined.
3. The Gershwin Centenary
On the occasion of the 100th birthday of George Gershwin in 1998 Marcel Worms has assembled a program dedicated to this composer. In this program the complete Preludes can be heard (four of them have been published only recently) as well as a transcription for piano solo of An American in Paris and/or the Rhapsody in Blue , Gershwin Arrangements by the English composer Michael Finnissy, a number of arrangements by the composer of his songs and some lesser known works for piano. Furthermore Marcel Worms will give his own interpretation of some Gershwin songs.
4. Vincent van Gogh and the Music of his Time
On the request of theVan Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Marcel Worms put together this program ofworks related in some way or the other to Vincent van Gogh. He performedthis program at the Van Gogh Museum and in the USA on the occasion of twobig exhibitions on Van Gogh in Washington (National Gallery of Art) and Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
The complete program and explanatory notes about the program can be found elsewhere on this site.
5. Mondrian and the Music of his Time
6. Jean Wiéner - Works for piano
7. The Poulenc Centenary (1999)
1999 has been the centenary of the birth the Frenchcomposer Francis Poulenc. Marcel Worms has used the opportunity to puttogether a program with a selection from the large repertory that Poulencwrote for piano solo.
The piano has always been an important instrument for Poulenc, who was a very gifted pianist himself. However his pianoworks cannot be heard very often in the concert hall. The composer himself had a very critical attitude towards his pianoworks. Most of the works he rejected later on: the 'Suite in C' and the 'Improvisations' are notable exceptions. Of course these works will not fail on this Poulenc program, which tries to give a representative idea of an oeuvre which shows all the characteristics and stylistic developments of the composer.
8. 'Picasso - Artist of the century'
Upon the request of the Museum 'Kunsthal Rotterdam' Marcel Worms put together a program made up of pieces which are in some way or the other related to Picasso. The program was for the big Picasso exposition in 1999 in Rotterdam, and has been released on CD on the Dutch label VIA RECORDS.
9. Federico Mompou - Musica Callada
In 2002 it was 15 years since the death of the Catalan composer Federico Mompou on the blessed age of 94.
Actually Mompou's timeless music doesn't need a jubilee year to be performed. Mompou's oeuvre does mainly consist of music for piano and this music is absolutely unique. The works are simple and have a transparant structure, clearly intuitive, not composed according to a system and full of severe Spanish mysticism.
Mompou's 'magnum opus' without any doubt is 'Musica Callada', composed between 1959 and 1967. This cycle, rarely performed, is a work of about 1 hour lenght and is made up of 28 miniatures. In this 'Music of Silence' sound and silence are elements of equal importance, which complement each other in a perfect way. The music is maninly meditative, introvert and austere but at the same time warm and intimate. Mompou is like a diamond cutter, polishing his whole life the same diamant to make it more beautiful all the time. He can be compared for that with the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi who painted the same objects over and over again during his lifetime, trying to express the essence more exactly every time.
The 'Musica Callada' with its strong religious aspect could be considered as a Spanish version of Messiaen's 'Vingt Regards'. The main reason of the fact that this magnificent works is performed so seldom may be the fact that it is absolutely no virtuoso music. What counts is bringing out all the colours, the details, the timing and the building up of tension.
In 2007 Marcel Worms has played a number concerts devoted to Mompou's music on the occassion of the 20th anniversary of the composer's death. As a solo player he performed the cycle 'Musica Callada' and he has played Mompou's chambermusic with an ensemble with Irene Maessen (soprano), Marijke van Kooten (violin), Larissa Groeneveld (cello) en Martin Kaay (guitar). These programs can still be performed.
10. Tangos for Piano
In this program Tangos can be heard from Latin-America and Tangos by European composers which were composed when the Tango conquered Europe in the beginning of the 20th century. The piano has been an important instrument almost from the beginning of the Tango and many great names from the history of Tango like Osvaldo Pugliese and Horacio Salgan were, apart from being bandleader, pianists as well. Marcel Worms performed this program in the Netherlands, China and Argentina.
A repertory list of this program can be found elsewhere on this site.
11. Composers and their national music
We live in an age in which borders are fading. The world is getting smaller thanks to the blessings of increased mobility and the internet, and communication is easier than ever. With these blessings also come the dangers of decreased diversification and of losing our cultural identity.
One aspect of this globalisation is that in music the cultural and geographical background of the composers often cannot be heard clearly anymore. In the past the situation was different. Many composers integrated traditional music from their culture, their country or region into their compositions. Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart used popular dances from folkmusic. Chopin expressed his nostalgia for Poland in the Mazurkas, for Liszt Hungarian gypsy music was a source of inspiration and Bártok travelled through Eastern Europe with a primitive recording device to record original popular music which he incorporated generously in his own works.
For this program music of 4 European composers has been chosen, each of them representing one of the points of the compass: Franz Schubert (west), Leos Janácek (east) , Edvard Grieg (north) and Federico Mompou (south).
A repertory list of this program can be found elsewhere on this site.
12. Jewish Composers in and around the Second World War
The second world war and the period before has affected jewish composers without any exception. Some could go into hiding or survived the concentration camps. Many however were not so fortunate and were murdered not only as a person but as a composer as well. Much of their music fortunately has been preserved and recently there is an increasing interest in their works.
In this program music will be performed by jewish composers who have been active in and around the Second World War. A number of works has been composed while the author stayed in a camp. In some of the compositions the tragic circumstances under which they were written are reflected clearly but it's striking to conclude that often a lighter, nearly optimistic mood is audible as well. The capacity of artist to maintain their spiritual power in such a situation is surprising and hopeful.
On the program are works by the Dutch composer Leo Smit (Deux hommages, Suite), Nico Richter (the compact and modernistic sonatine from 1935), Viktor Ullmann (second Pianosonata), Gideon Klein (the Pianosonata, remeniscent of the much more well-known Sonata by Alban Berg), Erwin Schulhoff ( the swinging 'Suite dansante en jazz') and Karel Berman ( de moving 'Terezin Suite').
A comparable program for flute and piano is performed by Marcel Worms with flutist Eleonore Pameijer with works by Leo Smit, Erwin Schulhoff, Dick Kattenburg and Rosy Wertheim.
13. Spanish pianomusic featuring Mompou and Nin-Culmell
Thinking of spanish pianomusic from the first half of the 20th century most people will mention composers like Albeniz, de Falla, Granados and Turina. It’s surprising that two spanish composers, whose music I love very much, never became that famous: Federico Mompou (1893 - 1987) and Joaquin Nin-Culmell (1908 -2004).
Mompou’s music I’m playing allready for a long time and especially in 2007, the 20th anniversay of the composers death in 1987.
Mompou’s music speaks an almost magical language, that evokes with minimal means a special, mystical world. Catalonian folkmusic, chiming and religious elements do play an important part in this universe.
The composer Joaquin Nin-Culmell was close friends with Mompou. His father was the Cuban composer Joaquin Nin, his spanish mother was a singer. Nin-Culmell led a cosmopolitan life and has been living in Spain, France and the United States. His music is more earthly and energetic than the one Mompou composed. Spanish and cuban folkmusic is omnipresent in it. His 4 volumes of Tonadas, with their canciones and bailes (songs and dances), give a caleidoscopic image of the various regions of Spain, a kind of alternative Iberia, less virtuoso, but more primitive and rough. In the beginning of 2008 I’ll record the Tonadas on CD. The Cuban folkmusic has been eleborated by Nin-Culmell especially in his 12 Cuban Dances.
In 2008 it will be 100 years ago that Nin-Culmell was born: an ideal occasion to bring this music alive again and give it the attention it deserves.
In this program also works by more well-known spanish composers can be performed, like Albeniz, Granados and de Falla.
After the Chopin year 2010 I’ll continue to pay attention to this piano composer par excellence and to focuss on the influence of Chopin on the generations of composers after his death. This influence has been enormous and I have found a great variety of interesting compositions showing this.
For my program ‘Around Chopin’ I have made combinations of works by Chopin and related works by other composers.
The Spanish composer Federico Mompou wrote a beautiful series of variations on Chopins A major Prelude. This set of variations will be combined with two Chopin Preludes, one of them of course the Prelude that has served as a theme for Mompou.
In one of the variations there is a special quote from Chopins Fantasy-Impromptu in c sharp minor.
The Polish composer Szymon Laks wrote his Ballade, Hommage to Chopin in 1949 when the 100th anniversary of Chopins’ death was celebrated. The relation with the original Chopinballades is obvious as will be shown by performing Chopin third Ballad.
In combination with Chopins Nocturne op. 34 nr.1 I’ll play the 'Nocturne' by the French composer Jean Françaix: à la mémoire du grand Frédéric Chopin.
Recently a new work by the dutch composer Dick Kattenburg (1919 - 1944) has been discovered. This Novelette nr.3 shows a lot of Chopinesque elements.
Surprisingly enough Chopin has been a source of inspiration for composers on the Netherlands Antilles, still a Dutch colony. Dutch author Jan Brokken wrote an exciting book on this subject, that has been translated in many languages. He shows how composers were thrilled by Chopins mazurka's and waltzes and gave them a very personal Caraïbean twist. Mazurka's and Waltzes by Jacobo Palm and Wim Statius Muller will illustrate this, in combination with Mazurka’s and Waltzes by his Polish predecessor.
Chopins Amerikan colleague Louis Gruenberg made a jazzversion of Chopins Waltz in c sharp minor op. 64 nr.2 which will be performed in combination with two original Chopin Waltzes.
Finally Waltz for Debby by jazzpianist and composer Bill Evans shows the great influence of Chopin on the use of harmonies in 20th century jazz. This jazzstandards can be considered as a 20th century version of a Chopin Waltz.
15. Bachs Goldberg Variations in combination with Metamorphosis by Philip Glass
At first it was just a series of short pieces meant to entertain the Russian envoy in Dresden, Count Hermann Carl von Keyserlingk, during his sleepless nights by the young cembalist Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, a student of John Sebastian Bach. In the meantime Bachs' Goldbergvariaties BWV 988 have been ranked since long in the list of inevitable masterworks of Western music.
April 2011- Jakko van der Heijden, director of Zefir Records, the label that released my last five cd's, reveals his long existing wish to me: a cd that combines the Goldbergvariations (1741) with Metamorphosis (1988) by Philip Glass. Did I feel like making such a recording?
One of the highlights of the Baroque repertory side by side with a classic minimalistic piece. A descending bassmotive that generates a series of dances, canons and virtuoso variations, expressing a multitude of moods and emotions versus a series of simple chords which, with a meditative slowness, give birth to multicoloured musical patterns. Very different works, that's for sure. On the other hand they are both transformations of basic patterns - one works varies at a high speed in a baroque way, capricious, surprising and daring, the other one does the same but much more cautious, spreads its wings gradually and is opening up vistas step by step. Eventually however both works return to their point of departure.
My first reaction to Jakko's proposal was reluctant. Glenn Goulds' version of the Goldbergvariations impressed me very much as a teenager. Since then many prominent pianist give their views on this monumental series of variations: Perahia, Sokolov, Schiff, Barenboim and many others. Jakko was aware of that, however emphasized that all the same my recording was still not there. Moreover by combining Bach with Glass we might reach another target-group: music-lovers for which we could pave the way through the very accesible language of Glass to the more complex idiom of his colleague.
Since I was a young boy Bach always has been my favourite composer. Often I start my day with playing his music and I put his Goldberg Variations on the music stand more than once.
The prospect to have an excuse to devote many hours to this magnum opus (and so in the year in which I would turn 60!) attracted me more and more. I started to practice the variations and I concluded that the musical and technical problems were not insurmountable.
At the same time I purchased Glass’ Metamorphosis. On a night in april 2011 I was playing through this piece when there was a knock on my studio-door: the girls living on the first floor were excited about what they had just heard and wanted to know immediately who composed this 'cool' music! I started to think that Jakko had been right with his idea to combine these two works.
The recording of this music has meanwhile taken place in Middelburg (the Netherlands). In October 2013 the album has been released and thereafter I performed the program many times in public.
16. Around Francisco Mignone (1897 - 1986)
Francisco Mignone is famous in his native country Brazil but outside Brazil he is still largely unknown.
His music combines the style of Chopin and Italian belcanto with Brazilian popular music and its characteristic, exciting rhythms. In july 2013 Marcel Worms visited Mignone's widow, the pianist Maria Josephina Mignone in Rio de Janeiro. With the composer she formed a pianoduo and she knows his pianorepertory like nobody else. Now Marcel Worms will record a large part of Mignone's pianoworks on CD (release fall 2013). In this concertprogram Mignone will be represented with a great number of works, combined with Tangos Brasileiros by his fellow countryman Ernesto Nazareth.
The music which Darius Milhaud heard during his stay in Brazil (1917-18) inspired him to compose his Saudades do Brazil for piano, in which one can hear this untranslatable feeling of Saudade: something like 'Weltschmerz', 'spleen', 'duende'... To fully understand the Saudade you should listen to Brazilian music and if you have heard enough of it there is this song by the most famous Brazilian composer Carlos Antonio Jobim: Chega de Saudade or No More Blues.
17. Danzas Caribeñas
The classical music from the isle Curaçao, part of Dutch cultural heritage, is nearly unknown in the Netherlands. In his book Waarom elf Antillianen knielden voor het hart van Chopin (Why eleven Antillians kneeled down in front of Chopins heart), Dutch author Jan Brokken showed the enormous influence of Chopins works on Caraibean music. This book stimulated interest in this repertoire in the Netherlands but still this music does not get the credits it deserves.
Caribean dances for piano featuring compositions from Curaçao: works Jules Blasini, Joseph Sickman Corsen, Robert Rojer, Wim Statius Muller and members from the famous Palm dynasty from the isle of Curaçao: Jan Gerard Palm, Rudolf Palm, Jacobo Palm and Albert Palm. To put this repertoire in a broader perspective, also music from Cuba (Ignacio Cervantes) and Venezuela (Teresa Carreño) will be performed.
Various works have been published in the famous Curaçaose magazine Notas y Letras and will be played in the Netherlands for the first time. Notas y Letras was published between 1886 and 1888 and had a reputation in the whole Caraibean world. Writers, poets and composers from Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Santo Domingo and Curaçao published their poems, stories and compositions in this cultural magazine. On the initiative of the Palm Music Foundation Marcel made a recording on cd of this repertoire for the Zefir Records label.
18. 'The seasons', a pianocycle by the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks
Peteris Vasks could be characterized as the Latvian counterpart of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Nature, contemplation and spirituality are important elements in the music of both composers.
In his cycle 'The Seasons' (1980 - 2008) Vasks expresses, in his own, very personal style, not only the capricious and often extreme character of the Baltic seasons but also gives his vision on the relation between man and nature - a relation that worries him. For Vasks the threatening of nature is closely connected with the moral decline of mankind. As his music repeatedly has expressed the longing for freedom of the Latvian people, his works could not be performed nor published until 1992, the year of independency of Latvia.
In the summer of 2015 Marcel visited the composer in Riga and thereafter recorded the cycle (release april 2016).