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Review in “Luister”, September 2007 (Dutch magazine for review of recently issued CDs)

“Fascinating from beginning to end”

Samson: In limine – Elef lajla we-lajla – Cellosonata.
Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble: Wilke te Brummelstroete (mezzosoprano), Carolien van ’t Hof (flute), Jacobien Rozemond (violin, voice), Doris Hochscheid (cello), Frans van Ruth (piano). Sol Classics SOL 005. DDD-70′

Performance: 10 (highest grade)

When reading the notes on the CD cover, pause a moment when you read that Jacobien Rozemond plays the violin and sings. This is not a violinist who occasionally mumbles or utters a shriek a la Kagel – quite the contrary, she really plays a duet with herself, and sometimes produces percussive sounds with her feet as well. In writing Elef lajla we-lajla for her, René Samson has produced a delightful piece of music, a four-movement suite with influences from Jewish and Indian ethnic music, but also fragments from Rimski-Korsakov’s Shéhérazade. I don’t hesitate to call this a unique happening. You simply have to listen to this CD.

René Samson was born in 1948, of Jewish-Surinamese origin and worked as a chemist the first half of his professional life. The composer Samson emerged only in the last ten years or so. The three extensive works on this CD – In limine (for mezzo-soprano, flute, violin, cello and piano), Elef lajla we-lajla (for violin and voice) and the Cellosonata – are evidence that his status as a composer has reached maturity by now. The song cycle in five movements In limine (“On the Threshold”) set to poems of Eugenio Montale (in Italian) fascinates from beginning to end, not in the last place due to the accessibility of his themes, which give the listener something to hold on to. Not only the composer, but also the listeners may count their blessings with performing musicians such as those at work on this CD. – S.R. (translation: R.Samson)

Review in the Dutch newspaper Trouw of May 12, 2007

René Samson – In Limine – Sol Classics 005

René Samson (1948), the Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble – both of these I had never heard of before seeing this CD. Composer Samson has a web site ( where one reads that he was born in Paramaribo, really wanted to go into music, but went into chemistry instead. He worked at Shell, continued playing the flute and started composing at age 40. Samson took lessons from Leo Samama and Klaas de Vries – no small names in the Dutch music scene – and when one looks at the list of works at his site, one sees that he gradually has been building an impressive musical oeuvre since 1992.

The two song cycles and the Sonata for cello and piano on this CD sound full of passion and expression. Trying to compare them with other music, the early works of Hans Kox come to mind: Samson often opens his pieces with signal-like statements, gestures that are quickly transformed into meandering melodies and that are further developed in playful, organic forms.

The Jewish songs from “A thousand-and-one nights” sound inventive and delightfully “folkish”, the Cello Sonata is passionate and the cycle “In Limine” is moving.

The playing of the ensemble (consisting – among others – of Jacobien Rozemond, Doris Hochscheid, Frans van Ruth and Wilke te Brummelstroete) is expansive and full of refinement. The recording is miraculously beautiful and the artistic CD cover design is a gem.

Anthony Fiumara (translation: R.Samson)

Klassieke Zaken june 2007 page 39 – vocal music

René Samson – In Limine
Wilke te Brummelstroete, Jacobien Rozemond, Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble
Sol Classics Sol 005

This is the first CD with music by René Samson. It shows the full gamut of his work. His music is more tonal than what used to be fashionable until recently and this makes his work more accessible to ears that are less familiar with contemporary music. The CD starts with the song cycle “In Limine”, set to texts of the Italian poet Eugenio Montale. The poems tell of pain, emptiness, and dark images, a gloomy, desolate landscape, which Samson depicts with oppressive silences, raw sounds and eery flageolet tones. Wilke te Brummelstroete’s dark mezzo voice fits this dismal world to a tee.

The second piece on this CD is based on a Jewish fairy tale. The text is innocent: boy meets girl and wants to sleep with her. She playfully refers him to her mother. This is worked out in a surprising way: Jacobien Rozemond plays an Oriental-Jewish melody on her violin, all the while singing and wildly stamping her feet.

The last piece is an ode to the composer’s father and to a good friend. Both loved Charlie Parker’s and John Coltrane’s music, whence the influences of bebop and free jazz in this Sonata.

The Bridge Ensemble, who has played many interesting Dutch compositions, has produced an impressive performance with this CD.

Karin Sutherland (translation: R.Samson)

Fragment from a personal email from Eva Gerlach (Dutch poet, laureate of the P.C.Hooft price 2000) to René Samson about Regardant … écoutant… (song cycle to poems of Philippe Jaccottet, performed by Valérie Guillorit, soprano and the Amsterdam Bridge Ensemble):

“ … extraordinarily rich, exciting and totally in line with my experience of the poems as I read them. Emerging and evading mystery, something I can only describe as a continuous attempt to penetrate. (You insert strangely dance- and song-like moments and silences that evoke an odd sadness.) IV left me literally breathless …”

(translation: R.Samson)

Doris Hochscheid (cellist): “It is not easy to write music that is based on a concept (as is the case with many Dutch compositions) that still touches the heart as well. René Samson is one of the few composers that manage to do just that, time and again”.

Hans Leenders (conductor, after performing Splinters with Holland Symfonia and soprano Charlotte Riedijk): “As a conductor I got to know this piece quite well. I was especially touched by the way in which the composer extracts maximal effects out of the orchestra with minimal means, effects that are all in direct relation to the text of the piece. In this work Samson uses an idiom that is neither would-be avant-garde nor kitsch. Not only I welcome this, but the general public as well. Conducting Splinters gave me much artistic satisfaction. If there is an opportunity, I will attempt to perform it again”.

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