Music Review: Princess Christina Lunch Concert

I met my two friends just outside the beautiful Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague, for a free classical music lunch concert. Nothing better, than spending your lunch break attending a concert – I think. We were taking a slight gamble, as there had been no information about what pieces would be played.

However, with this range of concerts, the risk is minimal. Any of the concerts by finalists of the yearly Princess Christina Concours, is always an impressive experience. The performers’ age range lies between about 12 to 21 years. But their young age stands in no relation to their great talents. My friends and I have never been disappointed.

This concert opened with a very young and great talent: mr Youngjae Kim. He told the public a bit about the pieces he was going play. The Scherzo nr. 2, op. 31 by Frederic Chopin and – according to mr Kim – the challenging nr 4, from Miroirs by Maurice Ravel. The Scherzo was performed with great feeling and brought me already close to tears. Miroirs nr 4 seemed a diddle for mr Kim. He played it brilliantly, seemingly effortlessly, and certainly captured all facets of its Spanish temperament. My friends were awed. A few members of the public were already on their feet, giving a well-deserved standing ovation.

Mr Coen Dijkstra continued this concert with four pieces he played on a marimba. I suspect you may be as unfamiliar with this instrument as I was. Of course, this percussion instrument has a sound of its own. However, it reminded me slightly of Gamelan music. The “Toccata” was a show-piece of virtuosity and dexterity, leaving my friends and the rest of the public overawed. In “Merlin, part 1”, one could certainly hear the dark forces in the wood. It was a very pleasant surprise to hear the “Minuets” by Bach performed on this instrument.

But the most moving part of this concert, was its last piece. “Kazak Lullaby”, a piece composed by mr Dijkstra’s teacher K. Abe. She has invited mr Dijkstra to continue his marimba studies with her in Tokyo in September. But Mr Dijkstra did not select this piece as just a homage to her. This lullaby is based on a folksong in which a mother laments the death of her child.
Mr Dijkstra dedicated his performance of it, to all victims of flight MH17.

After this very moving piece, both performers – hand in hand on the podium – received a well-earned standing ovation for their brilliant concert, which honoured both the joy of music and the deep mourning and pain, felt by so many, affected by the recent disaster in the Ukraine.

Free lunchconcert by finalists of the Princess Christina Concours; Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague, 12:30 – Tuesday 22nd July 2014

Mr. Youngjae Kim (2000), piano

  • F. Chopin, Scherzo nr. 2, op 31
  • M. Ravel, Miroirs, nr 4, Alborada del gracioso

Mr. Coen Dijkstra (1994), marimba

  • A. Ignatowicz, Toccata
  • A. Thomas, Merlin, part 1
  • J.S. Bach, Cello suite nr.1 BWV 1007, Minuet 1 and 2
  • K. Abe, Kazak Lullaby
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