Various Artists

JacobTV: Suites of Lux

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Jacob Ter Veldhuis (born in 1951) is one of the most intriguing and engaging Dutch composers to emerge in the generation following Louis Andriessen's. In this two-disc collection that focuses on music for strings and piano, the third installation in a series that began with Rainbow and Shining City, he has re-styled himself as JacobTV, but it seems more like change in branding than an actual aesthetic shift. It's easy to hear Andriessen's influence -- the originality of his vision is inescapable even internationally, so it must have been particularly powerful for younger Dutch composers -- but Ter Veldhuis has a strong enough voice to stand out as more than an imitator. English-speaking audiences may be familiar with his hilarious work The Body of Your Dreams from pianist Andrew Russo's extraordinary album Dirty Little Secret. None of the pieces here have that work's breathtaking level of zaniness, but many share its sense of propulsive energy. Ter Veldhuis' control of energy and momentum, in fact, is one of his music's greatest strengths -- his fast-moving pieces have an exciting sense of drive and purposefulness, and his more meditative pieces have a logic and quiet intensity that keep them from being meandering or static. Ter Veldhuis' music is emotionally direct, and he possesses an authentic lyrical gift that never sounds like rehashed Romanticism; the last movement of his string trio Nivea Hair Care Styling Mousse (played by Roeland Gehlen, violin; René Berman, cello; and Frank Peters, piano) and Rifugio d'Ucelli Notturni (with Berman and pianist Kees Wieringa) are especially lovely. Apart from the Postnuclear Winterscenario for piano and Postnuclear Winterscenario for String Quartet, which, appropriately, are grimly stark, his music is marked by a gentle optimism that reflects his deliberate rejection of what he perceives as the negativity of much modern music. This attribute is especially evident in his sunny, contemplative String Quart No. 1, "Versailles," played with polish and sensitivity by the New Netherlands Quartet (which performs three of his string quartets here). Violinist Monica Germino plays expansively and with beautiful tone in the rock- and new age-tinged Suites of Lux, for electronic violin and soundtrack, the largest work on the album. JacobTV's music should be of special interest to fans of new music that steers clear of the rigors of serialism and the gravity that can sometimes characterize modernism.

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