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Pianist Julia Den Boer Releases Kermès


The album is named after the Kermes ilicis and Kermes vermilio insects, found in Mediterranean kermes oaks, from which brilliant red pigment can be ground.

Pianist Julia Den Boer Releases Kermès

French-American pianist Julia Den Boer today releases her second album, Kermès, on New Focus Recordings. The album's four stunning works by experimental female composers include Giulia Lorusso's Déserts, Linda Catlin Smith's The Underfolding, Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Reminiscence, and Rebecca Saunders' Crimson.

The album is named after the Kermes ilicis and Kermes vermilio insects, found in Mediterranean kermes oaks, from which brilliant red pigment can be ground. The red kermes dye became incredibly prized during the Middle Ages, although the practice of using kermes insects eventually died out in favor of other methods. "The quest for deeper, richer, subtler, stable sources of color unite the four pieces on this album," says American conductor, composer Nicholas DeMaison, in the liner notes. The album's four composers unveil their unique techniques for drawing out the piano's sonic possibilities and creating pianistic coloration. DeMaison continues, "Julia Den Boer's unfolding of these pieces is not just a presentation of these deeper, richer, and subtler colors, but a rejoicing in the process of sonic creation."

Déserts (2018) by Giulia Lorusso is a collection of five pieces for solo piano inspired by the theme of the desert and the poetic images associated with it. These images include the idea of a psychological space suitable for inner listening to ourselves and the world, as well as the idea of vitality reinforced by extreme conditions. Each piece evokes a particular desert: the Wadi Rum in Jordan, carved out by the river; the Uyuni salt desert in Bolivia; the Atacama, a flowering desert located between Southern Peru and Northern Chile; the Murzuq in Libya, the sand sea; and the Hammada, the rocky desert, in the Western Sahara.

Linda Catlin Smith's The Underfolding (2001) attempts to layer sound and create an ambiguous sense of harmony, using chords and clusters to shade pitch and rhythm. Smith says, "Because the piano can sustain, there is an inherent possibility for the layering of sound, like the undertones in painting where many colours can be superimposed, generating an overall hue, or atmosphere. This was my way of approaching a subtle complexity, which comes from a desire to deepen my experience of composition. Throughout there is a sense of hidden or implied melody, clothed in the surrounding pitches and shadings, though there is one line, one low melody, which is unadorned."

Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Reminiscence (2017) is written in seven short movements that are performed in a seamless flow. At seven minutes long, it was originally written for pianist Justin Krawitz on commission by the University of Northern Colorado for Democracy 25.

Rebecca Saunders uses The Concise Oxford Dictionary to creatively define Crimson (2005) as an adjective "of a rich deep red inclining to purple," noun "this colour," and verb "make or become crimson. Blood-red." The word also appears in James Joyce's Ulysses, in Molly Bloom's closing monologue: "and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and... yes".

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