Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Australian Dutch conductor Simon Murphy chosen as top 5 highlight in Festival's 30 year history

Dutch Classical Radio has chosen Simon Murphy's "legendary" performance of Corelli's Concerti Grossi at the Holland Festival of Early Music Utrecht in 2003 as one of the top 5 highlights of the festival's 30 year history. Murphy (38, born in Sydney, currently based in the Netherlands) is Chief Conductor of The Hague's Baroque Orchestra, the international award winning "New Dutch Academy" (NDA), a group he has led since founding it in 2002.

Murphy's groundbreaking performance, broadcast and recording production of Corelli's orchestral masterpieces with the NDA at the Festival in 2003 – including the iconic "Christmas Concerto" – succeeded in presenting Corelli's musical aesthetic and soundworld in a completely new light. The resulting SA-CD recording of the Concerti Grossi, made by Murphy and the NDA for Dutch label PentaTone Classics, became the first ever recording to use Corelli's own, large scale orchestra, rich Italiante improvisation and extemporisation, and a full and varied continuo section (including baroque guitars, baroque lutes, archlutes, theorbos, harpsichords and organs). The production was highly enthusiastically received by the world's music press, the BBC Music magazine reporting:

"When it came to his orchestral music, size mattered for Corelli ...These accounts by the New Dutch Academy, a big band playing on period instruments, reflect the best of both worlds. Its sound is sumptuous, but textures are sufficiently transparent to allow details to cut through, and the historically informed approach includes stylish ornamentation and a battery of continuo instruments which would surely have delighted the composer. … director Simon Murphy infuses these accounts with subtle jazz-like touches: swinging rhythms, inventive extemporisations and vigorous guitar strumming effects."

Dutch Classical Radio is celebrating the 30 year old Utrecht Festival of Early Music with a series of downloads of live historic festival concert recordings from the radio's archives, including performances by The Orchestra of the 18th Century (Frans Brüggen), The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (Ton Koopman) and The New Dutch Academy (Simon Murphy).

Conductor Simon Murphy Corelli Concerti Grossi
Simon Murphy and the NDA perform and record
Corelli's Concerti Grossi
at the 2003 Holland Festival of Early Music

Recent performance highlights for Simon Murphy and the NDA have included appearances at the Händel Festival Halle, Bachfest Leipzig and for the Zaterdagmatinee at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. In season 2011-2012, the Murphy and the NDA present well and lesser known 18th century masterpieces by Corelli, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Cimarosa, Paisiello, Rossini and their contemporaries in the orchestra's symphonic, Baroque orchestral and chamber series at home in The Hague and around the Netherlands. Upcoming tours take the orchestra through eastern Europe and Asia.

Listen to Murphy's Corelli CD

Read more on the Holland Festival of Early Music's top 5 on the Dutch radio's website:

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Dutch National State Broadcaster portraits Simon Murphy

The Dutch National State Broadcaster (NPS) is profiling conductor Simon Murphy and The Hague’s Baroque Orchestra “The New Dutch Academy” with an exclusive live CD of symphonic works by Beethoven, Haydn and Wranitzky. 

The live concert recording of Murphy and The New Dutch Academy (NDA) was singled out by Dutch Radio as a highlight of the radio’s recording activities over the past season. Selected out of hundreds of concert recordings made by the NPS, the NDA recording stood out due to the highly engaging atmosphere of the performance – identified as a hallmark of the performing style of Murphy and the NDA. The CD is produced by the NPS in co-operation with the Dutch music magazine “Luister”, the premiere music magazine in the Low Countries. 

The live CD portrays the work of Murphy and The New Dutch Academy Orchestra – the new generation of specialist Dutch early music performers – in vibrant concert action, capturing Murphy and The New Dutch Academy Orchestra (which performs exclusively on authentic instruments) performing Beethoven Symphony no 1 and Haydn’s Symphony no 104 “London” as well as other orchestral music by contemporary and friend of Beethoven and Haydn, composer and conductor Paul Wranitzky. Wranitzky conducted the first performance of Beethoven’s Symphony no 1 (dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten) and the Viennese premiere of Haydn’s “The Creation”. 

The NDA concert documented on the CD took place in the Grote Zaal of the Rotterdam Concert Hall, De Doelen in December 2007. The live disc is available exclusively in the May 2010 issue of “Luister”, edition 666. The disc is volume 5 in a NPS / NTR / Radio 4 / Luister set documenting live performances of note in the Netherlands. 

Simon Murphy and the NDA in De Doelen in 2007,
radio sound check for concert broadcast

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A warm welcome for world-premiere Zappa SA-CD

International media response Zappa SA-CD positive

Conductor Simon Murphy and The New Dutch Academy's new Super Audio CD has been met with great enthusiasm from the Dutch and international media since its international release in November 2009.

Featuring world première recordings of newly re-discovered works from The Netherlands' own symphonic tradition at the glittering 18th century court of Orange in The Hague, the recording presents an array of Dutch musical crown jewels by composers active at the 18th c. Dutch court – Symphonies by C.E. Graaf, Schwindl, C. Stamitz and F. Zappa (Cello Symphonies). This music was rediscovered by Simon Murphy and the NDA's own Research Lab in a seven year long, international research project leading up to the recording of this new disc.

This new, landmark recording - the NDA's 5th CD - is the first recording ever to offer a panoramic view of the symphony at the cosmopolitan and highly culturally engaged 18th century Dutch court in The Hague. The disc follows on the heels of the NDA's previous CD, which created a furore, successfully presenting the symphonies of the 18th century Amsterdam composer Joseph Schmitt (“The Dutch Haydn”) to the world for the first time.

The disc (PentaTone Classics PTC 5186 365) "Crowning Glory – Zappa Symphonies" (The Netherlands' Musical Heritage – The Symphony at the 18th century Court of Orange in The Hague), is available worldwide, with distribution in 45 countries.

What the critics say:

"The other Zappa ... A fascinating view of the rich musical traditions of The Hague ... brilliant performances ... wonderful orchestral sound of the NDA" Klassieke Zaken

"18th century rock 'n roll ... a total eyeopener" Haagsche Courant

"swinging and persuasive!" Het Parool

"Different Time ... Different Place ... Different Zappa ... Same Excitement!" Pop Matters (U.S.)

"Simon Murphy and the New Dutch Academy clean up big time with the works of Christian Ernst Graaf (individual), Carl Stamitz (electrifying) and W.A. Mozart ... Murphy creates an earthy energy with funky rhythms and fine articulation. The performances of the [Zappa] cello solos by Caroline Kang and the Mozart concert aria by soprano Elizabeth Dobbin are particularly distinguished. Beautifully recorded." De Volkskrant

"When it comes to the subject of Crown Jewels, the Dutch can definitely hold their own with the British. The New Dutch Academy presents a musical exhibition of seven high-carat examples from the Classical epoch, including two totally stunning new masterworks. Under no circumstances should one miss this!" Deutschlandradio Kultur (CD of the Week, November 2009)

The repertoire-refresher, conductor Simon Murphy is certainly not lacking in humour. “Zappa Symphonies”!? ... It is indeed another Zappa, Francesco (fl. 1763 – 1788), who is reborn through this rich anthology CD of first recordings of works from the court of the Prince of Orange, William the 5th in The Hague. The disc presents cosmopolitan works by musicians and musical visitors to the court of William V – veritable musical Crown Jewels.

The album radiates joie de vivre, bursting immediately open with a lively symphony by Graaf - a work in the Sturm und Drang spirit, with celebratory trumpets and drums. Schwindl’s animated symphony [in D] is laden with a similarly contagious élan, particularly in the most effervescent string figurations in the Presto finale. In the works by Zappa selected by Murphy for the disc, the composer shows himself to also a firm disciple of the classical school, but technically more demanding. His style displays a certain melodic charm: the central Largo assai of the Cello Symphony (Caroline Kang, cello) could have easily been a cantilena from an opera. The two outside movements, with their seductively solo-woodwind parts, embrace the Largo as a jewel box would encase its treasures. Zappa’s other symphony is more robust in the outer movements, but its Largo also makes room for a superb cello solo. The Stamitz symphony [in C], suggestive of a most celebratory crowning, is developed, complex and rich with expressive shadings with an enlivening and rejuvenating bouquet that makes it – in the words of Murphy – indeed a most attractive work.

Murphy’s interpretation of these works distinguishes itself by its enthusiasm; his approach possesses a classic élan but without any stiffness or dryness, and displays a delicate sensitivity in the Andantes and Largos. 5 Stars! Diapason (France)

"This is a splendid concert, brimming with vigorous rhythms and varied orchestral colours, played with impeccable ensemble and élan by the NDA. Strongly Recommended!

No, not THAT Frank Zappa, but Francesco Zappa (fl.1763-1788). He was one of a coterie of musicians attracted to the employ of Wilhelm V and his mother, Princess Anna van Hannover at The Hague in its Golden Age, now unearthed by the indefatigable Simon Murphy, conductor of the New Dutch Academy Orchestra. This disc must have one of the longest titles in recording history; its full title is: "World Première Recording - Crowning Glory - The Musical Heritage of the Netherlands. Dutch Crown Jewels: Symphonies from the 18th Century Court of Orange in The Hague". That says it all.

Music flourished in The Hague under Wilhelm; the monarch and his family were connoisseurs (Princess Anna was a former student of Handel's), and the city also was a notable centre for music printing and publication and thus doubly attractive to composers. ... A developing Classical orchestra [in the 18th century] of strings, flutes, oboes and horns (sometimes also trumpets and drums) offered composers opportunities to invent fashionable and exciting new "Special Effects". Much of this development took place at the Mannheim Court, under Johann Stamitz, Carl Stamitz and Franz Xaver Richter, whose early symphonies already featured by Simon Murphy in albums with the NDA (Stamitz/Richter: Early String Symphonies - New Dutch Academy/Murphy, The Mannheim Project, Volume 2 – Murphy). ... The Mannheim techniques of building up layers of rich sounds spread to the rest of Europe, as did their full orchestral crescendos and diminuendos. Gestures known as the 'Mannheim Rocket' and 'Mannheim Sigh' were also much in vogue and quickly found their way to The Hague.

Murphy has compiled a diverting and entertaining programme of music created for the Court of Orange, presented here by the period instruments of the New Dutch Academy, who play with zestful energy and poetic grace. Most of the symphonic movements last between one and a half to three and a half minutes, so wandering concentration [in the listener] is not an issue. Indeed, [the works] seem to pack in a great deal of material in concentrated form. ... The opening Graff symphony is ablaze with trumpets and drums, all bustling orchestration, relieved by a delectable tip-toe slow dance for the middle movement, where the tangy harpsichord continuo is heard. Its Presto finale comes out of the speakers like a terrier snapping at your heels.

The two recently discovered symphonies by Zappa, a fine cellist, teacher and composer, show a remarkable excursion from galant formal conventions by having an extensive and introspective solo for cello in each of their slow movements. The soloist is sometimes accompanied, sometimes muses alone in extended recitative or cadenza-like passages. Soulfully played by Caroline Kang, these meditative oases are an utter delight. ...

A chance to gaze through a window in time at the entertainments supplied for The Hague's nobility, resulting from dedicated scholarly research which is nicely summarized in the well-illustrated booklet." SA-CD (Five Stars)

"With works by Zappa and others, this CD presents an anthology of pieces which were once written to be enjoyed at the court of Willem V, Prince of Orange in The Hague.

Belonging to the classical style, the works resonate with the musical aesthetic of Haydn and Mozart. Simon Murphy, conductor of the New Dutch Academy, compares them with ‘Rock and Roll of our time’ … these pieces are clearly a breakthrough and full of life … The CD presents two works of Zappa as a premiere.

The musicians of the NDA display an exceptional rigour on their authentic instruments and gut strings, delivering very fine performances of these lesser known pieces.

Extremely enjoyable to listen to in itself, the disc also allow us to expand our knowledge of the gold mine that is the music of the 18th century; this recording proves that, other than the obvious Mozarts and Haydns, there are many other composers of great value from this period. Diverdi (Spain)

Listen to the CD

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Season Opening 2011-2012

Simon Murphy and The Hague's Baroque Orchestra, The New Dutch Academy, will open the 2011-2012 cultural season in The Hague on Thursday 20 October in the city's Philipszaal with the symphonic programme “It's About Time”. The programme features arias by Mozart, Paisiello and Rossini, Haydn's Symphony no. 101 “The Clock” and Rossini's Overtures to “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella) and “Il barbiere di Siviglia”. Soloist is Danish soprano Nina Bols Lundgren.

Recently The New Dutch Academy (NDA) and its conductor Simon Murphy were honoured by being named as one of the top 5 highlights of the 30 year history of The Holland Festival of Early Music Utrecht alongside The Orchestra of the 18th Century (Frans Brüggen) and The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (Ton Koopman). Dutch national radio celebrated the festival's 30th anniversary with a series of downloads of “legendary” festival performances including the NDA's Corelli Concerti Grossi.

In The Hague, the NDA's 2011-2012 concert season features exciting and engaging programmes of both well known and newly rediscovered 18th century masterpieces performed exclusively on authentic instruments by the NDA's international, new generation, specialist musicians. Guest soloists include the recipient of the 2010 BBC Music Award, Iranian/American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. and the winner of the 2011 London Handel Singing competition, Canadian soprano Stefanie True.

The NDA's concert programmes regularly present modern day premiere performances of 18th century works newly unearthed by Murphy and the NDA's research lab, such as the repertoire featured on the NDA's newest SA-CD (PentaTone) - the first recording to document the symphony at the 18th century Court of Orange, with musical crown jewels by Dutch and international composers at the court including Graaf, Schwindl, C. Stamitz and Zappa.

Recent concert highlights for Simon Murphy and NDA include appearances at the Händel Festspiele Halle, the Bachfest Leipzig and for the Zaterdagmatinee at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Recent tours have taken the orchestra through north-west Europe, Russia, northern American and Australia. Upcoming tours will see the orchestra visit Asia and eastern Europe.

Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of The New Dutch Academy is Dutch-based, Australian conductor and viola player, Simon Murphy (38).

Download the NDA's 2011-2012 Season Brochure:

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Watch conductor Simon Murphy and the NDA in action in Beethoven's 2nd Symphony, live in the Philipszaal:

Listen to Murphy and the NDA's acclaimed festival Corelli CD:

Read more about the NDA's acclaimed festival Corelli project on the Dutch radio's website:

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Dutch Crown Jewels

Newly rediscovered symphonies from the Court of Orange live in concert!

Under the baton of its conductor Simon Murphy, The Hague's Baroque Orchestra, The New Dutch Academy (NDA), will perform music from the highly successful, recent CD release "Zappa Symphonies" live in concert on Thursday 24 March 2011 in The Hague's Philipszaal, Spuiplein.

"An eyeopener!", "Inspiring, energising and vibrant", "Radiating joie de vivre" and  "A fascinating view of the rich musical traditions of The Hague together with the wonderful orchestral sound of the NDA" are just some of the many highly enthusiastic responses from the international music press to this new disc, released on Dutch label PentaTone Classics.

The CD is the first ever recording to document the symphonic traditions of The Hague's 18th century Court of Orange, presenting world premiere recordings of symphonies by composers resident at the court, including Zappa, Stamitz and the Hofkapellmeister C.E. Graaf. This music was rediscovered by Simon Murphy and the NDA's Research Lab during a pioneering, seven year long research project dedicated to unearthing the city's symphonic heritage. 

In the concert on March 24, Simon Murphy and the NDA will perform works from this album in a special performance celebrating the rich 18th century symphonic heritage of city of The Hague. The concert takes place as the city prepares itself for its bid to become European Cultural Capital in 2018. 

The concert's programme offers a panoramic view of the musical traditions of The Hague's glittering 18th century court featuring music by several of the court's resident composers as well as by some of the court's many famous 18th century musical visitors. The court's guestbook included the names of such luminaries as Mozart, J.C. Bach, Abel, Hummel, Dussek and Beethoven. 

A highpoint of the concert programme will certainly be the performance of one of the of the most exciting musical discoveries made by the NDA in recent years, "The Cello Symphony" in B flat written by The Hague's 18th century cello virtuoso and composer Francesco Zappa. 

Other works on the programme include Mozart's Symphony no.5 "The Hague", written during his stay in The Hague in the mid 1760's, and Mozart's classic Andante in C for Flute and Orchestra, written for the Dutchman Ferdinand Dejean in the late 1770's. Completing the programme is the pulsating "Hurdy Gurdy" Symphony by the 18th century Amsterdam composer Joseph Schmitt (otherwise known as the "Dutch Haydn") whose effervescent symphonic works were also highly popular at the court. 

Listen to the CD

Simon Murphy and the NDA perform music from The Hague court
on The Hague's Hofvijver, overlooking the original court buildings

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