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Interview and first reviews!

On Friday, May 29th, an extended interview with Ralph, in the context of his new CD with French piano rarities, has been published by newspaper Trouw (written by Sandra Kooke). Also, the first review was published in newspaper De Volkskrant, in which the album is much praised: ‘Ralph van Raat is a pianist who plays pieces that most of his colleagues don’t dare. […] He plays it all with great excitement’. The CD has also been described as ‘very refined’ in this Belgian review by Michel Dutrieue. Raymond Bisha has made a podcast about the CD here.



New solo CD released by Naxos today!!

Today, Naxos has released Ralph’s 30th new album worldwide: French Piano Rarities!! The album contains works by Debussy, Messiaen, Boulez and a small piece by Ravel, that are seldomly or never heard on the concert stage. One of the works is a world premiere recording of Boulez’ substantial early work Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo, for which Ralph has been granted special permission from both the Boulez heirs and the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland. Other works on the CD are, amongst others, two separate solo movements from Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Étoiles for piano and orchestra, and a number of posthumously discovered works by Debussy and Messiaen. The works give an interesting historical perpective to the composers’ stylistic developments; for example, the mentioned Boulez work forms an easy-to-follow bridge between the romantic past and the new modern composing styles at that time. Debussy’s Étude sheds a light on his renewed interest in earlier composers at the end of his life, leading to his Sonatas for different instrumental combinations, and so on. Raymond Bisha has created a podcast about this release here and some buying options are given here!

Great reviews duo album HALO!

Over the past months, the CD ‘Halo‘, with works for piccolo and piano played by Ilonka Kolthof and Ralph van Raat, has received rave reviews in both the national and the international press. A selection:

‘‘The performances on this recording are first rate. The ensemble playing between the two is exceptional, and the two musicians play off another creating some remarkable tone colors.’’- Flute Talk Magazine, 2020 March issue
“Kolthof impresses with alternating brilliant and lyrical playing. Pianist Ralph van Raat excels in the demanding keyboard parts.” – NRC Handelsblad ****
“Ilonka’s playing is elegant and refined, even in staccato and flutter tongue. Control is the key word, also in Ralph van Raat’s piano playing. Recommended! – FLUIT, 2020 Spring issue
“Kolthof never sounds shrill and she whispers with her instrument (…). Her partner in crime is the unparalleled Ralph van Raat, who brings to the limelight, amongst others, Jan Vriend’s Sonata with much urgency. “- De Volkskrant ****

CD ‘HALO’ released!

During a festive concert in Amsterdam last Sunday, rising star piccoloist Ilonka Kolthof and Ralph have released their new CD Halo for the label TRPTK, for which Ilonka, through her Dutch Piccolo Project, has commissioned six composers to write new works for her and Ralph. In quite some anticipation of this release, Kolthof and Van Raat have appeared at radio shows before the release. These were followed by an excellent first review in yesterday’s Dutch national newspaper Volkskrant, praising the extreme diversity of musical characters, colors and virtuosity displayed in this recording: ‘[…] Ilonka Kolthof certainly did change the reputation of the piccolo in those 80 minutes! Kolthof never sounds shrill and she whispers with her instrument – so it is also possible this way. Her partner in crime is the unparalleled Ralph van Raat, who brings to the limelight, amongst others, Jan Vriend’s Sonata with much urgency.’

Daan Manneke CD released

On November 7, a live recording of Daan Manneke‘s newest piano cycle Grote Archipel has been released by Zefir Records on CD and digital download. With each of the six movements written for specific befriended pianists (Geoffrey Madge, Kelvin Grout, Hannes Minnaar, Jelena Bazova and Daniël Kramer), the 80-years old composer has dedicated the first movement to Ralph. Manneke’s piano music is of a deeply spiritual character, influenced by, amongst others, Bach, Messiaen and Stravinsky. Besides this first movement, Ralph also recorded Manneke’s only two other piano works for this CD, Polychroon and Blues for Marcel, thereby completing this anthology of Daan Manneke’s complete piano music.

BREAKING NEWS: Ralph wins the VSCD Classical Music Prize!!

Yesterday evening, November 3, during a live television broadcast of well-known Dutch music program Podium Witteman, Ralph has been awarded the prestigious award ‘The Ovation 2019’, a classical music prize which is awarded on behalf of the ‘Association of Dutch Concert Hall Directors (VSCD)’ to a musician, ensemble or orchestra who/which has delivered a most distinctive stage performance, and who contributes in an important way to classical music in The Netherlands. The prize consists of a sculpture by artist Iris Le Rütte, a placard and a concert tour.


Prize nomination!

A press release has just been sent out by the VSCD (Foundation for Theatre- and Concert Hall Directors), stating that Ralph has been nominated for the ‘Ovatie 2019’, a prize on behalf of the Dutch concert halls ‘for the ‘most impressive concert of 2019’. The other nominees are two ensembles: Amsterdam Sinfonietta in a co-production with Italian pianist Beatrice Rana and the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble (Netherlands Wind Ensemble). The final choice will be announced in November.

Ralph in studio again for duo-CD

Last August, Ralph has recorded a new CD with one of the most original and successful flutists of today, Ilonka Kolthof. Focussing on the newest and most varied repertoire for the piccolo and piano, they recorded works which were all written on behalf of Kolthof’s Dutch Piccolo Project. Many of the works were written for the duo by composers Alan Segall, Ned McGowan, Bart Spaan, Jan Vriend, Piet-Jan van Rossum and Jan-Peter de Graaff, representing both older and the youngest generations of composers. The CD will be released by recording label TRPTK on November 24, 2019, at the official CD launch party in the Amstelkerk, Amsterdam, on that day (picture: Brendon Heinst).

Master-CD off to Naxos!

Last month, the master-recording for Ralph’s upcoming solo-CD with rare works by Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen and Boulez has been sent to Naxos’ headquarters in Hong Kong! The release date is May 2020. This is one of the most exciting recordings Ralph has made for Naxos to date, because it contains seldomly heard compositions, recently discovered works, and a world’s first ever recording. A highlight is the large, early work by Pierre Boulez: Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo. Exclusively permitted to play and record for Naxos by the heirs of Pierre Boulez and the Sacher Foundation in Basel, this almost half-hour work looks back on virtuosic Romantic music, but at the same time looks forward to the new composition styles which Boulez would start to use shortly afterwards. The CD also contains hardly known works by composers who inspired Boulez the most, such as a posthumously discovered piano study by Debussy, a posthumously reconstructed birdsong work by Messiaen, and a very little gem by Ravel, found in a notebook, which forms a fingerprint of his mature musical language.