Miscellaneous reviews

Robert Nasveld: Music for the Billions, New York Premiere
……..“In Sachs’ excellent notes, Robert Nasveld says, “When I had graduated from the Conservatory in Utrecht long ago I felt a great need for self-renewal. On the one hand I wanted to rid myself of the remnants of other people’s influences; on the other hand, as far as I was concerned, the big fat bone of dissonance tossed to us at the beginning of the twentieth century had in my view been picked clean.” Nasveld introduced his ‘Music for the Billions’ (today’s winning title, by the way) by remarking, “It’s always interesting to see how young people survive my music,” but his bracing, sometimes humorous study wasn’t as difficult to enjoy as he seemed to imply. The work has clear nods to jazz and minimalism, with sometimes almost banal-sounding sonorities. In the third movement,he tries to deal with an “unbelievably silly tune in which sixth chords flew about my ears.” Few composers at the moment would even bother to tackle a subject seemingly rife with potential triteness, let alone come up with Nasveld’s exhilarating results. I didn’t find it forbidding at all; on the contrary, let’s get his music here more often! Good for Mr. Sachs and his outstanding young musicians for illuminating this oddity and the four previous works, all of which deserve further hearings.This is exactly the kind of rousing evening that gets people excited about contemporary music – and wanting to hear more of it”……
Bruce Hodges, Seen and Heard International Concert Review September 18, 2004

The Untested Venture Into the Unknown at Juilliard 

…….“Mr. Nasveld, born in the Netherlands in 1955, offered the most overtly cheerful music on the program. His ‘Music for the Billions’ (1998, revised 2002) is largely tonal, but not simplistically so, and its juxtapositions of syncopated rhythms, its wide-ranging percussion (from castanets to a lion’s roar) and its passing allusions to everything from Rachmaninoff to Elmer Bernstein’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ film score give the piece a subtle but enlivening sense of humor”……
Allan Kozinn, New York Times Review September 21, 2004

The BRNO Friends of Music have begun this year’s piano series in an exceptionally attractive manner.
“For the concert in Besední dum last Wednesday, the Brno Friends of Music had invited the Dutch Piano Quartet, an ensemble consisting of four pianists, Corien van den Berg, Marian Bolt, Niek de Vente and Robert Nasveld, playing at two pianos. The sound of this unusual setting was heard fo the first time by the Brno audience, the massive, remarkably plastic texture of the sound image nearly reached the volume of an orchestral sound. The program was divided into two contrasting stylistic concepts, revealing the domain of the ensemble – contemporary music. That exactly was where the pianists made the best of their individual technical brilliance, as well as the multiple sound, whose density enabled different timbre characteristics of different compositional strata. The performers created almost visual effects – note for example ‘Lethe’ (1985) by François-Bernard Mâche, which performed in this way, became a highly impressive picture of the merciless river of the Underworld. A more drawing-like compositional style was represented by ‘Untitled II’ (1987) and ‘Sciosophy’ (1986) by Graham Fitkin, progressing in several simulaneous, motorically exact, hot jazz-flavoured layers. ‘Three Pieces for two pianos eight hands’ by Robert Nasveld, a member of the ensemble, presented surprising power of expression. Nasveld’s style meant in a sense a return to the broad-minded Rakhmaninov-like swing; the resulting “infinite” arch of melody was built up from contemporary sound elements, though.”
Frau Dr. Alena Borková in Rovnost

The Washington Post: Lieuwe Visser and Robert Nasveld
Picture a voice recital in which the singer gets totally lost, the pianist leaves the stage in disgust, and the singer, not noticing, breaks up into hysterical and embarrassed laughter. It happened just that way – intentionally – Saturday evening at the Library of Congress in a wonderful and imaginative concert of 20th-century music performed by bass baritone Lieuwe Visser and pianist Robert Nasveld. The piece was Nasveld’s own work, ‘Imaginations I’ (1978), which along with the humor was a moving expression of the universally feared “performance nightmare.” The concert opened with Josef Matthias Hauer’s ‘Hölderlin-Lieder’, Op. 21 (1922), settings of ecstatically romantic poems in Hauer’s own unique 12-tone system. In these largely tonal works, the singer must create his own rhythm and dynamics — Hauer supplies only the pitches. Visser was brilliant; by creatively using the word rhythms he constructed expressive recitatives linked by evocative chord clusters from the piano.Ton Bruynèl’s ‘Denk mal das Denkmal’ (‘Just Remember the Memorial’) for sound track and bass baritone was a sober affirmation of living in the face of past wars, present political tensions and threats of future wars, and was filled with symbols from Revelation, Germany’s Nazi past and Schubert’s ‘Erlking’. Visser met the demands of his challenging program with ease and amazing vocal variety, from the deep, rich tones in Stockhausen’s complex ‘Tierkreis’, which expressed the signs of the zodiac, to the Sprechstimme and falsetto of John Cage’s settings of texts by James Joyce.”
October 5, 1987 The Washington Post