“That man can do anything!” exclaimed the late, legendary recorder player and conductor Frans Brüggen when asked by Tijdschrift Oude Muziek about his young colleague Erik Bosgraaf. “He had an upcoming concert of the music of Van Eyck at the Amsterdam Amstel church and sent me an invitation. His playing was superb, so inspired and technically impeccable.” It was Brüggen’s birthday, but that didn’t stop him attending. When soon afterwards Brüggen conducted Bach’s Actus tragicus (Cantata BWV106) in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, he invited Bosgraaf to play the first recorder part.
Erik Bosgraaf’s quick rise to fame is directly attributable to his debut on Brilliant Classics: a three-disc box devoted to Jacob van Eyck’s (1589/90–1657) “Der Fluyten Lust-hof” (The Recorder’s Garden of Delight). Released in 2007 on the 350th anniversary of the Utrecht composer’s death, the recording was made at the request of the Van Eyck scholar Thiemo Wind who said he had never before come across a recorder player with so much understanding of this virtuoso solo repertoire and such a capacity for playing it: the sprezzatura, the casual ease and spontaneity this music, originating in improvisation, demands. The set was a worldwide hit, even winning over some diehard recorder haters. Erik Bosgraaf was clearly one of the instruments greatest players.
This 5-disc set offers a sample of Erik Bosgraaf’s achievements in the field of baroque music, beginning with Van Eyck and embracing his milestone recordings of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.
Jacob van Eyck – “Der Fluyten Lust-hof” (selection). The blind Utrecht municipal carillonneur played his recorder on summer evenings in the Janskerkhof for people strolling in the park. He must have been a brilliant virtuoso, judging by the two volumes of “Der Fluyten Lust-hof”, which comprise mostly variation sets on popular tunes of the period and psalm melodies using a technique akin to diminution called simply breecken in Dutch, or “breaking”, the notes of a theme are broken into groups of smaller value, with increasing virtuosity as a result.
J.S. Bach – “Solo Concertos”. We know that most of Bach’s harpsichord concertos are adaptations of his own solo concertos for a melody instrument. These concertos are Bosgraaf’s transcriptions for his instrument: “my answer to the question: what would Bach have done had he composed concertos for the recorder?”
Handel – “The Recorder Sonatas”. This is the first (2008) of three duo collaborations with harpsichordist Francesco Corti. Handel was truly a man of the stage (some of the recorder sonatas movements are also found in his operas) and these two musicians bring the drama of this music home.
Vivaldi – “Recorder Concertos”. Erik Bosgraaf: “Recorder players are fortunate that Vivaldi, the Red Priest of Venice, composed a body of concertos for their instrument that, while perhaps less well known, can easily view with his famous “Four Seasons”. This is fantastic music!”
Telemann – “The Recorder Sonatas”. In his own day Telemann was the most popular composer in Germany, his fame far exceeding that of Johann Sebastian Bach. His popularity is perfectly understandable, as he composed for both amateurs and professionals and had a feeling for entertainment, for music that everybody could understand, however untutored their ears. Another facet of his genius was facility on a large number of instruments, among them the recorder, and it’s that familiarity with the practice and the physical material that present-day players still experience. Telemann is one of Bosgraaf’s favourite composers: “If Bach is a master chef, then Telemann is a master chef’s cook book. Bach serves ready-to-eat dishes, Telemann offers the ingredients for you to work with. You will get nowhere without imagination!”
· Recordings date from 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015
· Trilingual booklet in English, Dutch and German contains a profile of the artist and notes about each of the five programmes
· “That man can do anything!” exclaimed Frans Brüggen, after hearing a concert by Erik Bosgraaf in 2007. The eminent recorder player and conductor’s encouragement was the starting point of an international career and rise to fame of the young recorder virtuoso.
· Erik Bosgraaf is one of the most remarkable recorder players of today. Equally at home in early as well as contemporary music he extends the limits of his instrument, achieving an extreme range of expression and unheard-of effects. He travels the world, giving his unorthodox concerts combining the old and the new, in his own inimitable way. He worked with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Melbourne SO, The Hague Residentie Orchestra, as a soloist and even as conductor.
· This 5-CD set, “The Artistry of Erik Bosgraaf” brings together the most successful recordings made for the Brilliant Classics label, featuring his iconic “Der Fluyten-Lusthof” by Jacob van Eyck, Bach Recorder Concertos, Vivaldi Recorder Concertos, Handel Recorder Sonatas and Telemann Recorder Sonatas, recordings which were met with outstanding critical acclaim in the international press.