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Tradition and creation, discovery and recognition do not have to exclude each other. We see this stubbornness as a quality and as our trademark.


voorjaar 2017

Brahms, Debussy, Stravinsky, Schönberg, Messiaen, Feldman, Korngold, von Bingen, Oestvolskaya, Bach, Schöllhorn, Ligeti & BartoK

This spring, Het Collectief will be presenting a whole range of concerts, hard to lump together under a common denominator.


In different places here and abroad, concertgoers will be invited to discover the group’s varied repertoire. With Brahms and Debussy, we shall be taking a run up to the pioneering music of Stravinsky and Schönberg. With Messiaen or Feldman, we shall be unsettling the perception of time and space. A kaleidoscopic survey of American music will be offered in our programme ‘Bad Boys’. Or we may perhaps keep it a little more romantic with Korngold? In the treasure house of twentieth century chamber music, everyone will undoubtedly find something to his of her taste.

In the concert series ‘The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom’, we shall be organizing, in a joint production with the Psallentes singers, a meeting across eight centuries of music history. In this production, we shall be confronting the Gregorian music of the twelfth century mystic Hildegard von Bingen with the unrelentingly booming sounds of the recently deceased Galina Ustvolskaya, a Russian composer with an equally great passion for the transcendent.

With a new project on Bach’s ‘Die Kunst der Fuge’ (The Art of Fugue), Het Collectief will be exploring the past once again. This time, we shall be guided by the German composer Johannes Schöllhorn, in whose ‘Anamorphoses’ we hear the fugues in an exciting, colourful, contemporary transformation.

Last but not least, there is a new invitation by deSingel to give a concert in February. This year we have decided to spoil our public with one of the most important works for ensemble from the post-war repertoire: Ligeti’s ‘Kammerkonzert’ (Chamber Concerto). The large group of musicians invited to participate in this project will also be interpreting with us some more Central European works, one of which being Bartok’s ‘Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion’.

Most welcome,

Thomas Dieltjens
artistic director



Anamorphosis. Derived from Greek etymology of a virtually extreme nature, this word conceals a process that might be described as the reversible distortion of an image. Transposed into music, this idea is tantamount to reshaping an existing work. In his Anamorphoses, the composer Johannes Schöllhorn sought to "show aspects of the work you might not expect to find in the original piece." The work in question is none other than Bach's famous The Art of the Fugue. "It is not a compositional interpretation of Bach's music," stresses the composer. "I am trying to look towards the future, from the present and through the past."

Come and discover this fresh interpretation of Bach's work, during the Bach Heritage festival!


Over the years, Het Collectief has developed a strong affinity with music from the United States. What struck us most in our quest for the most convincing pieces from that repertoire was its enormous diversity. The godfather of American experimental music is undoubtedly Charles Ives (1874‐1954). In some ways, the revolutions in composition brought about by Schoenberg and Stravinsky pale before the daring avant‐garde experiments of this insurance agent and amateur composer from Connecticut. In a similar vein, the ‘Bad Boy of Music’ George Antheil (‘1900‑1959) caused quite a stir with his modernist adaptations of jazz and light music. Time and again, his provocative compositions met with riots in concert halls. After the Second World War, the experiment was carried on with the same intensity as before. George Crumb (° 1929) created his very personal sound universe by developing a large number of alternative playing techniques. All this is without mentioning ‘Minimal Music’. This distinctly American musical style is based on a mesmerizing repetition of slowly transforming sound patterns. Steve Reich (° 1936) was and still is the protagonist of this current.

Most welcome in Quimper (F)




Together with the Psallentes singers, Het Collectief will be organising a remarkable meeting across nine hundred years of music history. A wise German woman mystic from the eleventh century, Hildegard von Bingen, and a twentieth century Russian composer, Galina Ustvolskaya, are found to have written music driven by the same inner necessity. The confrontation between Von Bingen’s extremely virtuosic and mobile melisms and Ustvolskaya’s excessive style creates a totally new and surprising sound world.


Morton Feldman (1926-1987) counts as one of the most colourful figures of the American avant-garde of the nineteen sixties. He developed an original and recognizable style, in which seemingly arbitrary and often-minimalistic musical events succeed each other in a slow and often infinitely drawn-out movement.  This moves the listener to a higher level of consciousness, in which time and space become tangible realities. In ‘Crippled Symmetry’ (1983), a hallucinating trip of no less than ninety minutes, Morton Feldman manages to create a universe in which three musicians are playing a meticulously written out score in the same tempo, in spite of the composer’s request not to synchronize the parts. The result of this pioneering experiment is the creation of a soundscape in which, accidentally or not, the vivid colours of flute, celesta, piano, vibraphone and glockenspiel are merged. The music will be accompanied by interactive images by videast Klaas Verpoest.


Mauricio Kagel is known as a composer with a keen sense of humour, provocative ideas and the daring to turn conventions upside down with his music. Stücke der Windrose is no exception to this rule. Musical references to local colour, clichés and even downright kitschy elements are uninhibitedly combined with more ‘modern’ sounding material. This is music written with imagination and relativising humour. And it invites the listener to experience that same imagination and playfulness. The same is true of Kantrimusik, more or less Kagel’s Pastoral, with a thunder storm, birdsong, galloping horses and folk music. But, as usual in Kagel’s work, such elements are never simply illustrative: the work explores, parodies and comments on the various aspects of the pastoral. Kagel even invents his own ‘traditional folk music’. An evening which will bring many a smile to your face. Just as Kagel intended! Kagel plus is a project in collaboration with LENseemble, Jauna Muzika, Vykintas Baltakas and Oskaras Korsunovas.


In the final years of his life, Johannes Brahms had come under the spell of the rich tone colours of the clarinet. His fascination for that instrument resulted in the creation of a few unsurpassed masterworks, which he was to add to his chamber music repertoire,  by then already quite extensive. In other Central European countries,  an equally rich chamber music tradition, built on a subtle mix of folklore and modernity,  was in the making.  In what is now the Czech Republic, the generation of Dvorák and Smetana was succeeded by, among others, Leos Janáçek, whose  impulsive temperament was to tinge the romantic style with  an expressionist flavour. But also Bohuslav Martinù, whose dearest wish was to do away with conventions,  contributed with his fresh lyricism to the further blossoming of Czech chamber music. As for Erwin Schulhoff, his ideal was to give classical music a place in everyday life. His uncomplicated creations of a mix of jazz,  folk and classical music came to an abrupt end when he was put to death  in the Wülzburg concentration camp ...


Pierrot Lunaire is based on the symbolist poetry of the Belgian poet Albert Giraud, with a moonstruck Pierrot in the leading role. The very competent German translation by Otto Erich Hartleben inspired Schoenberg to write this hallucinating masterpiece,  The enormous response that his composition received and continues to receive is not only due to the introduction of the famous ‘Sprechgesang’ - a subtle transitory form between speech and song – but equally to the sensuous fusion of text and music.


Two Flemish ensembles with a contrasting profile have joined artistic forces to present a unique concert programme on the theme of the zodiac. Het Collectief plays Tierkreis by Karlheinz Stockhausen (1975), while La Capilla counterpoints this music with a broad selection from the ‘Ars Nova’ and ‘Ars Subtilior’ (14th century). Tierkreis consists of twelve short, concentrated melodies, supported by simple chords. Each melody illustrates the specific characteristics of a particular sign. The original version of this work composed in 1974 consisted of twelve music boxes, each playing these characteristic tunes. The work is marked both by its uncomplicated harmoniousness and the radical avant-garde quality that we have come to associate with Stockhausen … La Capilla found universal answers to the theme of the zodiac in virtuoso pieces by De Machaut, Da Bologna and De Molins.


In his later years, Leos Janacek was more and more inspired by the world of children.  This shows very clearly in his ‘Concertino’ (1925), a miniature concerto for piano , in which folklore and modernism concur in creating a series of fairly naïve pictures of the world of animals.  Likewise in ‘Rikádla’ (1925), Janacek  turns all nostalgic.  The composition is based on a Moravian collection of absurdist poetry for children. The songs are interpreted by the young German soprano Mirella Hagen, who accompanies herself for the occasion on a little drum … Just like Janacek , the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók attempted to harmonize folklore and modern musical styles. This shows very clearly in ‘Contrasts (1938), where the influence of jazz is striking.  It is well-known that Bartók wrote that trio for two of his best friends, his fellow countryman and famous violinist Joseph Szigeti and the American jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman. Ligeti’s ‘Trio for Horn’ takes us one step further. In creating, in his slightly ironic way, a synthesis of baroque music, of Brahms and Central European popular music, Ligeti  invented a new and refreshing avant-garde sound.


Available on CD: a collector’s item for every music lover. Order your copy via (€20 domestic mailing  costs included).



The new season 2015-2016 has been on for barely a month and already Het Collectief  has gained a few new experiences.  In Liège,  we treated the public of the ‘Nuits de septembre’ (September Nights) to a Warholian version of Bach’s ‘Musikalisches Opfer’ (Musical Offering) and in Leuven we were joined  by Collegium Vocale  for the opening concert of the Novecento Festival. In Nicosia (Cyprus), we met a select group of composers at a concert we gave for the Pharos Foundation. Our performance was much appreciated and resulted in a new invitation next year.


With our Janaçek  evening at the Novecento Festival still fresh in our memory, we are preparing ourselves for TRANSIT, the other pillar of the ‘Festival van Vlaanderen’(Festival of Flanders). At this hot spot for ultra new music, we shall be presenting a new work by Vykintas Baltakas with the telling title ‘Smokey Arnold’. Apparently, Arnold Schoenberg’s music  has been the inspiration for this cheerful pastiche. With Frederic D’haene’s ‘Fluxus-static Friction’, we are finding ourselves in a totally different world, in which meditative and phrenetic impulses are trying to keep each other in balance.


At the invitation of the Melos Ethos Festival, we shall be playing a whole evening  of contemporary music in Bratislava in November. The Slovak  public will be introduced to the music of the Antwerp composer Bram Van Camp and his colleague Vykintas Baltakas, a Lithuanian living in Leuven.  With the Estonian composer Helena Tulve, we shall be pursuing our exploration of the music of the Baltics.  Finally, Viera Janarcekova’s spectral music will introduce us to the present day music scene in Slovakia.


For the first time, Het Collectief  has been invited by ‘L’Arsenal’ to give a guest concert in Metz. That the whole programme will be devoted to the Second World War is no accident. Hanns Eisler’s cantatas, which will be interpreted by Liesbeth Devos, gave a voice to the antifascist resistance in the thirties of the previous century. The next artist on the programme, Erwin Schulhoff, composer of so-called  ‘entartete’(degenerated) music, came to meet his end in the Wülzburg concentration camp. But the most iconic piece of the period was written by Olivier Messiaen. While a prisoner of war in Silesia, this profoundly religious Frenchman  composed his apocalyptic ‘Quatuor pour la fin du temps’(Quartet for the End of Time).


Taking  the last works of Johannes Brahms as point of departure, Het Collectief is looking back here on one hundred years of European chamber music. It is somewhat surprising that the work of this old, mildly romantic composer equally inspired young avant-gardists such as Arnold Schoenberg  to compose works like the first ‘Chamber Symphony’. In 1906, this impetuous, disrupting and highly romantic chunk of music unsettled the aesthetics of occidental music. Later generations did not discharge Brahms either. In 1982, the Hungarian composer György Ligeti wrote a horn trio in honour of the master. In that work, tradition and modernity go hand in hand in a slightly ironic way. 


In the twenties of the previous century, Arnold Schoenberg founded the ‘Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen’ (Society for Private Musical Performances) with the help of his pupils Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Programming chiefly new works that had been refused at the official concert venues, the society kept aloof from the mainstream conservative concert life. For want of a complete orchestra, many composers of the time wrote down-sized versions of full-fledged orchestral works. Even today, transcriptions of a comparable nature can be found. The adaptations of compositions by Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky by Reinbert de Leeuw, éminence grise of new music, are cases in point.
With these adaptations, Het Collectief returns to a particularly interesting period, the Second Viennese School, torn between nostalgia for the romanticism of the nineteenth century and the inescapable push of modernity.


In December , Het Collectief  will be playing a few lunchtime concerts on Sunday morning.

In Jette, we shall  be playing the ‘Quartet for the End of Time’(1941): an apocalyptic vision in which the composer Olivier Messiaen - at the time of writing the Quartet a war prisoner in Germany – transcends his day-to-day catholic faith by inventing ingenious composition techniques in order to achieve a musical translation of the notion of eternity.

C-mine in Genk goes romantic with  a mature Johannes Brahms’ mellow musical colours  and with  the  clarinet in a star role.  Welcome to the concert!