Henriëtte Bosmans Early Chamber Music has appeal

The Solarek Piano Trio performs three early works by Henriëtte Bosmans. Included is her Sonata for Violin and Piano (1918), Arietta (1917), and the Piano Trio (1921).

If you’re familiar with Bosmans’ mature style, these compositions may surprise you. They have a lush, romantic sound to them. This is a dramatic contrast to the stripped-down harmonies she started using in the 1930s.

The Violin Sonata was written while Bosmans was studying with Jan Willem Kersbergen. It’s full of youthful energy and enthusiasm. My one criticism is that the piano part seems overly showy. Not out of character for a young piano virtuoso/composer. But at times it threatens the balance between the two instruments.

The Arietta is a very different piece. Though written within a year of the sonata, the Arietta is much more introspective. Plus, Bosmans reigns in the piano, letting the violin sing. Because of the range — and the character — of this music, the Arietta is often performed on the viola. Nice to hear the composer’s original intent here.

The Piano Trio shows Bosmans’ growth as a composer. The handling of her material is much more assured. The piano part is meaty, but never overpowers the other instruments. Also, this work seems more emotionally focused somehow.

The players of the Solarek Trio turn in some fine performances. To my ears, the recordings — especially the sonata — seemed a little boomy. Consider it a nit, but one I had to mention.

Henriëtte Bosmans is a major figure in Dutch music. But she’s little known outside the Netherlands. Here’s hoping this release will encourage more folks to explore her catalog. It’s worth the effort.

Henriëtte Bosmans: Early Chamber Music
Solarek Piano Trio
Toccata Classics TTOCC 0654

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