The Gauguin Ensemble consists of Yfynke Hoogeveen, clarinet, Karlien Bartels, cello and Nata Tsvereli, piano. The ensemble, ambassador for Classical Music in the Northern Netherlands from 2007 to 2010, is known for its often surprising programs in which the standard chamber music repertoire is combined with contemporary music. Due to their original approach, they often reach a diverse audience. For a quarter of a century, the Gauguin Ensemble has been contributing to the emerging cultural decompartmentalization by developing concert forms with artists from other disciplines, such as Galili Dance conducted by Itzik Galili. In 2012, the ensemble entered into a collaboration with the Academy Minerva in Groningen, asking young artists to make animated films of composers as an introduction to the pieces to be performed. In 2016 they asked artist Barbara Stok to transform well-known paintings by Paul Gauguin into cartoon illustrations that could be seen on large panels during the concerts. The Gauguin Ensemble has taken part in various television, radio and CD recordings, and can regularly be found on the Dutch stages.
2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the Gauguin Ensemble; for this occasion the ensemble commissioned a composition from the well-known Dutch composer Robert Zuidam. He wrote a trio for them called ‘Arearea’ (2022 publisher Deuss music), after a well-known painting by Paul Gauguin. Zuidam about the trio: « It is my intention to reflect some of the colorfulness and exoticism of the painting in the music, so that something exuberant is created that fits the festive occasion. » The masterful clarinet trios of Brahms and Zemlinsky will accompany Zuidam’s work on a CD recording planned for autumn 2023.
Other Dutch composers such as Wim Dirriwachter and Sylvia Maessen also wrote for the Gauguin Ensemble: Wim Dirriwachter dedicated his ‘Four Movements’ to them (1995 publisher Donemus), and in honor of the ensemble’s 20th anniversary, Sylvia Maessen wrote ‘Correspondances ‘ (2016). In 2019, the same composer wrote the work ‘Clara’ for them, on the occasion of the 200th year of Clara Schumann’s birth.
For the Gauguin Ensemble, making music is about creating contrasts, depth and tension, about passion and temperament. The reference to the painter Paul Gauguin, flamboyant and intriguing because of his gripping color palette and implicit mysticism, was obvious in the choice of name: the neurological phenomenon of synesthesia (the ’taste’ of colors, or the ‘seeing’ of sounds) is palpable in his oeuvre. In an interview with L’Écho de Paris, published on March 15, 1895, Gauguin stated:
« Every feature in my paintings is carefully considered and calculated in advance. Just like in a musical composition, if you will. My simple object, which I take from everyday life or from nature, is just a pretext that helps me through a definite arrangement of lines and colors to create symphonies and harmonies. (…) … their sole purpose is to stimulate the imagination – just as music does without the help of ideas or images – simply through that mysterious relationship that exists between certain arrangements of colors and lines and our mind. »
The Gauguin Ensemble was founded at the time by clarinettist Yfynke Hoogeveen and pianist Loes van Ras. For years, the duo formed a solid basis for many concerts in which they regularly collaborated with colleagues such as violinists Philippe Graffin, Peter Brunt, Jacobien Rozemond, cellist Larissa Groeneveld and soprano Irene Maessen. In 2020 they met cellist Karlien Bartels, with whom they felt such a musical chemistry on stage that they decided to ask her to join the ensemble as a permanent member. In 2022 Loes van Ras had to decide to stop with the ensemble due to an accident. She handed over her position to Nata Tsvereli.
NB. Karlien Bartels plays a cello by C.A. Miremont (1882), a kind loan from the ‘Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds’, Amsterdam.