6] Dialogue I
7] Toccata I
8] Dialogue II
9] Toccata II
Theo Verbey (Delft) has much in common with the American composer John Adams, twelve years older than Verbey, for Adams’s musical style is also a true melting pot of influences. Both composers write music that can take on another colour from one composition to the next, whilst their musical fingerprints nevertheless always remain completely recognisable. Verbey and Adams belong to the group of musical magpies that includes Bach, Stravinsky and Louis Andriessen, their — unspoken — motto being ‘better well stolen than badly devised’. Tonality became an increasingly important anchoring point in his music, even though he has simultaneously harvested the fruits of the 20th century’s total emancipation of dissonance.
In the Fractal Symphony he strove for the balance and elegance that he found in Haydn’s symphonies; he also consulted Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique. The Fractal Symphony nonetheless calls up completely different associations: with Gustav Holst’s The Planets and even of Rawhide, and the sound of a distant gamelan orchestra. The performance time of its five movements is linked to the ratio 7:5:6:4:8; in accordance with the fractal principle.
In comparison with the preponderantly tonal atmosphere of the Fractal Symphony, the Piano Concerto has a noticeably rawer sound. The composition of the orchestra for the Piano Concerto is also worthy of note: Verbey made use of approximately forty winds and six percussionists. The Clarinet Concerto is almost classical in form with its two contrasting themes that are decorated and developed in the highly acrobatic clarinet part. The second movement is related to the Japanese gagaku music Etenraku. Verbey here creates the sounds of Japanese music on Western instruments, but gives them an extra lustre through his skill in orchestration.
Verbey is one of the leading Dutch composers of his generation. Verbey’s works are frequently performed in his native land by orchestras and ensembles for contemporary music as well as by various chamber music ensembles, whilst several high-profiled foreign ensembles from as far afield as the USA and Japan have also performed his compositions. Verbey has also been a guest at a number of international music festivals, including the Donaueschinger Musiktage, the Tanglewood New Music Festival and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. His orchestral transcription of Alban Berg’s Sonata op. 1 has attracted much international attention and appreciation.