listening to: bram van sambeek

If you’ve been with me on this journey long enough, you probably have gotten the sense that, more often than not, I am talking out of my ass.

If you’re new to the show – welcome! Occasionally, I talk out of my ass.

I don’t pretend to know much about classical music. I studied piano when I was younger. My teachers were fantastic, passionate, patient and, in the stupidity of my youth, vastly under-appreciated. If you come back to me in a week’s time, I might be able to play Für Elise decently enough that you would probably recognize it as that song that guy composed and anyone with a basic exposure to classical music would know.

Okay, that was a bit too self-deprecating, even for me. Let’s move on, shall we?

Lately, I’ve been listening to Bram van Sambeek‘s album Kaleidoscope. Bram performs on the bassoon, and very well at that. In fact, Bram is so incredibly talented, he was the first bassoonist to ever be awarded the Dutch Music Award, and rightfully so. Admittedly, I know precious little about the bassoon. I know it’s a woodwind instrument in the double reed family. It’s easily spotted in the orchestra as one hell of a strange looking piece. This man makes it sound good.

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I’ve been carrying around the CD (totally retro, I know) in my bag for the past few days, and am really enjoying it. The bassoon is totally foreign to me, and I’m partly drawn to its sound by sheer curiosity. Usually it’s accompanied by the entire ensemble/orchestra but here, on this album, playing three arias from Rossini’s il Barbieri di Siviglia arranged for two bassoons, I listened – completely mesmerized. I still am. In most cases, the orchestra is overwhelmed by the singer. Here, however, we have pure, unadulterated bassoon, and it’s fun and it’s playful and I love it.

I think you will, too.

Another favorite track on the album is Hagen’s Harlem Nocturne. In a word, I would describe it as sexy. James Bond would want this on his life soundtrack. Hell, I want it on mine. I want it to play when I walk into a dimly lit bar looking particularly svelte and am eyeing up the dark and handsome stranger in the far corner. If I’m walking in New York City’s twilight and feeling particularly badass, I would want this playing.

Here. Have a listen and tell me you don’t feel the same way.

I think it’s a real treat when music makes you cock your head to the side and think to yourself, I have never heard a sound like this or I would have never thought of arranging/playing this piece that way, but it totally works. Play it again. I highly, highly recommend this album to anyone and everyone. Those looking to shake up their music catalogs, those looking to listen to great tunes with a fresh perspective or those looking to grant their ears an hour of fun. They’ll be grateful you did.

Bram van Sambeek’s album Kaleidoscope can be bought via Barnes & Noble or through your music-purchasing avenue of choice. Those in the TriState area will have the opportunity to hear Bram perform live with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, starting with the opening of the 2012-2013 season on September 24. Click here for more information on Bram’s appearances with the CMS.

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