Several first recordings in a unique collection celebrating a landmark figure in 20th-century Dutch piano history.
The name of Cor de Groot (1914-1993) adorned the cover of many LPs of canonic concertos and sonatas throughout the 1950s, when his qualities were summed up in High Fidelity magazine in a review of the first two concertos of Beethoven: ‘De Groot is a solid and sympathetic interpreter in the Central European tradition... His playing impresses with its substance and authority rather than with ostentation and glitter.’
Some (though not yet all) of those recordings have received modern reissues on CD, but his own compositions have received comparatively little attention. An early Sonatina pokes fun at serial technique, before an Old Holland Suite deftly sketches a sequence of 11 Dutch landscapes and portraits. A sequence of five Homenajes documents his fondness for Spain, played here by its dedicatee Jacob Bogaart.
Folke Nauta likewise became a friend and colleague of de Groot, making him an ideal pianist to record the repertoire for left-hand piano which the composer wrote once a long term injury to his right hand had derailed his career at the end of the 1950s. Eastern European influences such as Bartók can be found in most of the seven movements of Apparitions, while a trio of later miniatures such as Cloches dans le matin (1979) makes a virtue of simplicity. Between them, Nauta has made an imaginative selection of music written for de Groot, as a left-handed pianist, by friends and colleagues including Willem, Juuriaan and Louis Andriessen, all receiving their first recordings here.
The collection ends on a note of personal homage and affection with EnCor, which Jacob Bogaart wrote in 2013 as a reminiscence of his improvisation and practice sessions with de Groot. Both pianists contribute substantial essays to the booklet, which is further enhanced by a memoir of the pianist by the curator, musicologist and producer Frits Zwart: ‘I was, of course, impressed by this world-famous pianist,’ he recalls, ‘a very ordinary man in his doings, also in his outward appearance. Nothing about him betrayed the great artist.’
· Cor de Groot (July 7, 1914 – May 26, 1993) was a Dutch pianist and composer. Born in Amsterdam, he studied piano with Egbert Veen and Ulferts Schults, and composition and conducting with Sem Dresden. In 1932 he graduated with highest honors, playing a piano concerto written by himself. After becoming a soloist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra he embarked on a highly successful international career. His recordings demonstrate a strong sense of structure, a clean rhythmic attack and very precise dynamic shadings.
· In 1959 a nervous disorder developed in his right hand but he continued playing repertoire for the left hand. He arranged more than 80 pieces for the left hand; his Apparitions, for the left hand alone, was described by one reviewer as "intense and expressive piano music that should make it a joy for a pianist to develop his left hand." Slowly he regained power over his right hand. He became musical director of the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation and promoted Dutch contemporary music. He made many recordings but also continued composing. His compositions include music for piano solo, orchestral music, vocal works and chamber music.
· The first CD of this set dedicated to Cor de Groot presents works for piano left hand, by Cor de Groot, Ignace Lilien (1897-1964), Léon Orthel (1905-1985), Willem Frederik Bon (1940-1983), the brothers Jurriaan (1925-1996), and Louis Andriessen (1939-2021) as well as by their uncle Willem Andriessen (1887-1964); the second CD contains works for piano solo by Cor de Groot.
· Played by Folke Nauta (CD1) and Jacob Bogaart (CD2).