Contemporary double bass in flashy registration

The big question with live streams of concerts: how do you make listeners forget they’re watching a screen? In the series Up Close of the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, the Nieuw Amsterdams Peil ensemble took an original approach. The entire concert was filmed in one take by one cameraman, Edwin Vermeulen, who moved across the stage between the musicians. NAP played five contemporary trios and duets by, among others, GF Haas, James Tenney and Giacinto Scelsi, each with a leading role for the phenomenal double bassist Dario Calderone. The implementation was high-quality and inspired, but the registration made it really special.

Vermeulen placed the ensemble in a dark room between hard-white stage lamps. With striking perspectives, he gave each piece a clear signature – that’s how he filmed Calderone in the duet Humboldt by Stefano Scodanibbio over the shoulder of violinist Heleen Hulst, in which the reflections on her violin top rhyme with the fluorescent sound skin of the ethereal music. With effects such as overexposure, blur, long shadows and a lively camera work, Vermeulen brought the performance really close. During the yellow intertitles with program info you could hear the voices, footsteps, rustle of sheet music: beautiful.

Intimacy and attention

The approach was reminiscent of the equally successful ‘film of an opera in quarantine’ The murder of Halit Yozgat, last summer at the Holland Festival. As a home viewer you have a limited view of the room anyway, but it is precisely the further restriction of your view to the eye of one camera can paradoxically increase your involvement. Vermeulen let the distance to the players implode and created an atmosphere of intimacy and attention, which greatly increased the accessibility of this ‘difficult’ music. Like in Franco Donatoni’s Alamari a range of colors and atmospheres, ranging from detached pseudo-jazz to a feverish groove and ending with a faltering music box, was breathtaking to hear and see.

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