Friday, January 10, 2014

CCC 092 Niel van der Watt

South African composer Niel van der Watt is the focus of this edition of the Consonant Classical Challenge. Van der Watt writes in an accessible post-romantic style that's well-grounded in tonality. One can also hear elements of pop and jazz into his music, which makes them even more readily accessible to general audiences. Van der Watt is also influenced by the music of his native country, and uses some of its language in his own work (as well as arranging South African music for more traditional forces).

"I Am the Voice of Africa" is one such work. Although the melody is African, van der Watt chooses to support it with more traditional Western harmony, while retaining South African rhythms.



This "Kyrie" shows van der Watt at his most traditional. The structure of this work is clearly derived from Gregorian chant, although the actual setting reflects van der Watt's musical personality.



Van der Watt's Suite for Flute and Piano contains some of the more popular musical elements that find their way into his music. The melody is straight-forward and unpretentious, although careful listening will reveal how carefully its been crafted. One can also hear a hint of jazz in the fast section.



It's unfortunate that I couldn't find a larger variety of Niel van der Watt's works to choose from. He's composed several works for orchestra, as well as many for choir and a few chamber works for unusual instrumental combinations. Based on the sampling of music in this post, though, I think it's safe to say that Niel van der Watt's compositions would be readily accepted by the average concert-goer.

Recommended Recordings

Voice of Africa

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