Friday, April 12, 2013

CCC 067 - Wim Zwaag

This week's  Consonant Classical Challenge entry is Dutch composer Wim Zwaag. Zwaag is a relatively young composer (b. 1960), and has no problem using simple harmonies and rhythms as the foundation for his music. Zwaag writes:
 Music must strike directly to the soul of the listener through its emotion and passion. I consider it a touchstone of my composing.
Although Zwaag writes in a mostly tonal language, his music sounds fresh and vital. Its accessibility makes its emotional content so effective.

Zwaag has a balanced catalog of works, with an almost equal number of chamber, piano, orchestral and vocal compositions. Major works include two string quartets,  two piano concertos, and concertos for violin, cello and clarinet, as well as some large-scale orchestral pieces.

The Sonata for Saxophone and Piano has the essence of Zwaag's style. Although the individual components are quite simple, the way Zwaag puts them together creates a complex and engaging work.

Zwaag writes effectively for the piano, as both his solo works and concertos for the instrument attest. The Piano Concerto No. 2 also shows Zwaag's gift for melody, as well as his talent for orchestration. Listen how the carefully selected combination of instruments supports the piano solo part.

The Violin Concerto is another attractive work. Here Zwaag uses the violin's expressive ability to communicate the passion and emotion his compositions are all about.

Zwaag's set of 24 piano preludes are studies in simplicity. The Prelude No. 2 from that set is but one example of how Zwaag uses modest compositional building blocks to create wonderfully attractive music.

Wim Zwaag is not a crossover composer. His music is placed solidly in the classical tradition. And yet it's music that should be immediately understandable both to long-time classical listeners and audiences new to the genre. Zwaag uses classical traditions in new ways, creating music that can engage, excite, and delight. And it's music that one can return to again and again and gain additional insight.

Recommended Recordings

Violin Concerto & Piano Concerto No. 2

Symphony No. 1 and Symphonic Poem

24 Preludes for Piano Solo


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for your music. I especially enjoyed your preludes -- which have inspired me to begin composing again (after too long a hiatus). I look forward to exploring more of your catalog, and honored that you commented on my posts.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful and accurate comments on my music.
    Looking forward to get acquainted with you compositions too, Ralph.