Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981, Dutch)

Ask a music-lover and connoisseur today about Andriessen and chances are, he’ll answer, “oh, yeah, Louis, the Dutch minimalist composer, the guy who composed De Tijd (Time) and De Staat”.

But look at the programs of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (like the New York Philharmonic, they have a great online archive), and from 1933 to 1980 it is filled with the name Hendrik Andriessen – 136 concerts with music of his (then there’s a gap and five isolated concerts in 1999 and 2002). By comparison, between 1961 and today, Louis gets… eight. Of course, part of that comes from the fact that Louis, as an “enfant terrible” of the Dutch music scene, eschewed the large and traditional symphonic forms (although he’s famous for disrupting once, in 1969, with like-minded radicals, a performance of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, to demand that it programmed more of their works, see this).

Anyway, had you asked in the 1930s to 1970s about composer “Andriessen”, music connoisseurs would probably have responded “oh, yeah: Hendrik”, and had you mentioned his son, they probably would have raised a doubtful and condescending eyebrow: “oh really? The son’s a composer too? Well good luck…”. Now, you see the name Hendrik, you’ve go to go to Wikipedia to check who that was in relation to Louis. In fact, like the Bachs, the Andriessens are a very musical family, Hendrik had a brother, Willem (1887-1964), who was also a composer (24 entries on the Concertgebouw’s concert archive, from 1909 to 1949), and another son, Jurriaan (1925-1996), who was also a recognized composer (he gets more entries on the Concertgebouw archive, from 1949 to 1972, than his brother Louis). And then, to make things really simple, Hendrik had another son, Nico, an architect, who gave birth in 1951 to a son (Hendrik’s grandson then, Louis and Jurriaan’s nephew) and he found no better idea than to call him Jurriaan like his uncle. Jurriaan Jr died at the untimely age of 40 and was mainly a graphic artist, but also an autodidact composer, his main work being a portrait of his companion Hedwig whose lines are in fact notes of music on staves, thus forming a score, which has been recorded, Do Records 008 (2003). More about Jurriaan Jr on the website devoted to him.

Back to Hendrik then. Cpo’s valuable 3-CD series (so far) of his Symphonic Works offers the welcome opportunity to thoroughly explore his symphonic output. If offers fine rewards:

Hendrik Andriessen: Symphonic Works volume 1 (Symphony No. 1, Ballet Suite, Symphonic Etudes, Kuhnau Variations). Netherlands SO, David Porcelijn, Cpo 777 721-2 (2012)

Hendrik Andriessen: Symphonic Works volume 2 (Symphony No. 2, Ricercare, Mascherata, Wilhelmus van Nassouwe). Netherlands SO, David Porcelijn, Cpo 777 722-2 (2013)

Hendrik Andriessen: Symphonic Works volume 3 (Symphony No. 3, Symphony Concertante, “Chantecler” Overture). Netherlands SO, David Porcelijn, Cpo 777 723-2 (2015)

I presume that a volume 4 will eventually show up, since Andriessen composed four symphonies. I have his 4th, together with Ricercare, on Olympia OCD 507, “Dutch Masters” (1992), by the Residentie Orchestra of the Hague under Ed Spanjaard, with works of Diepenbrock, Jan van Gilse and Henk Badings (review pending). I have another version, live from 19 October 1955, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Eduard van Beinum, on the great Van Beinum / Concertgebouw 11-CD / 1 DVD set from Q disc, Q 97015.

For his concertante works, I have NM Classics 92066 with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra under Thierry Fischer (1999), with the Concertino for Cello, Concertino for Oboe and Strings, Canzona for Cello and Orchestra, Violin Concerto, review pending.

I have other recordings of some of his orchestral works, in multiple-CD sets devoted either to conductors (studio recordings of Willem van Otterloo, with the Kuhnau Variations and Ricercare) or orchestras (Concertgebouw Amsterdam or Residentie of The Hague) in Dutch Music, on the labels Challenge Classics, Donemus / Colofon and Olympia.

I’ve also reviewed his Aria Magna res est amor from 1919, as recorded by soprano Jo Vincent and the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam under Willem Mengelberg, a recording made in April 1940 for Telefunken (SK3084/5) and reissued by Teldec, Willem Mengelberg: Dutch composers (Adrian Valerius, Cornelis Dopper, Julius Röntgen, Hendrik Andriessen, Rudolf Mengelberg, Johan Wagenaar). Teldec 243 723-2 (1988), King Record K30Y 256 (1988). It sounds like a Verdi aria – and after all, when it was composed, Verdi had been dead for no more than 12 years, and his last opera (Falstaff) dated from 20 years back.

For his chamber music, I’ve reviewed Hendrick Andriessen: Sonata for Cello and Piano (1926), Sonata for Violin and Piano (1932), Three Inventions for Violin and Cello (1937), Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello (1939). Amsterdam Bridge Trio. Cobra Records Cobra 0030 (2009).

There are CDs that I don’t have but will be actively looking for: NM Classics 902023 Hendrik Andriessen Orchestral Works (with Miroir de Peine, Magna Res Est Amor, Fiat Domine, Variations & Fugue on a Theme of Kuhnau, Variations Couperin, Chromatic Variations). Roberta Alexander, Netherlands Radio CO, David Porcelijn, barcode 8713309920239, and a 2-CD set published by Etcetera in 2004 that seems to have been such a limited edition that it is not even listed on most Amazons as CD, only in the form of download, although I know it’s been released in CD form because it was reviewed in Fanfare of November 2007 and I’ve seen it listed (but not actually offered) on other commercial websites: KTC 1307, Orchestral works (including the four symphonies, Kuhnau Variations, Couperin Variations, Ricercare and Symphonic Etude), by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra under various conductors, barcode 8711801101262.


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