New CD "Mo iikai"

Our new CD is finished. It's a joint effort between us and a charity movement in Japan: we made the recording in Belgium, and the CD's will be produced and sold in Japan. All proceeds will go to charity. For more information see
We recorded European and Japanese music. The release of the CD will coincide with our 3rd Japan Tour in February 2015.


November 2014


Our new CD with Japanese and European music will be available early next year...

Recording starts next week, 10th november 2014, with AVinspire's Geert Dedeken as sound engineer. Right now we're preparing the artwork (see photo). The CD will be released in Japan first, to coincide with our January-February Tour.

CD "もういいかい"
( AVinspire )


ルイジ・ボルギ作 デュエット
クライスラー作 美しきロズマリー
シュペルガー作 ソナタ

発売予定: 2015年春


Our Duo Sweet 17 CD "ALIVE" is out now !

Works by Attilio Ariosti and Johann Matthias Sperger, all played on Viola d'Amore and Viennese Violone.
See Quotes and Comments for an idea what listeners think about it:

You can order the CD through our blogspot. Just send us a message. Price is 20 Euros, and P-and-P plus shipping to any part of the world are included. Alternatively, you can buy it at La Monnaie's recordshop for 16.50 Euros (see section "CD" in this blog).

email :


Monday 21st August 2014

It's summer and the world is going crazy. Again. Airplanes shot down, misery in Gaza. Lies and rhetoric, and people dying for nothing. Men, women and children. In the meantime we've almost succeeded in completely destroying the planet's natural resources. We're getting there, it shouldn't take long now.

It must be true then: humans are just deadly viruses with shoes on. Except that this species of virus is only set on annihilating itself.

What, if anything, can be done about it? What can musicians do to help bring along a change of direction? Surely burying ourselves ever deeper inside our little world of music, unconnected to what is going on outside, is no longer an option.


What have we been up to, recently?

The first thing that comes to mind is the Monnaie's last opera production of the past season : "Orphée et Eurydice". Originally composed by Gluck (1762), but we played the Berlioz version that was written almost 100 years later (1859).

This was one of the rare opera productions (in my over 30 years as an opera musician) that deeply moved us both, and that seemed to have true significance for our times. Judging from the audience and from press reviews, many people felt the same way about it.

Theatre director Romeo Castellucci succeeded in connecting the age-old myth with our own day and age, and with a very real subject: the main character was "played" by Els, a victim of "locked-in" syndrome. 

With the utmost sensitivity, Castellucci cast this 26-year old paralysed mother of two as a modern Eurydice. In blurred images on a giant screen, she was part of the opera at every performance. Through live streaming she heard the music as we played it, and the audience saw her in "real-time". Castellucci succeeded in steering clear of any voyeurism, and in conveying very deep emotions through the simplest of means.

Unfortunately, as always much is lost in transferring the experience to a little screen and less than optimal sound quality, but at least it gives an idea of this splendid and moving production.


Going back in time, there was our Japan Tour 2014, a full account of which can be found in my own blog:

We played at Fukushima, visiting schools and discovering the post-tsunami situation there, accompanied by a Japanese reporter. Armed with masks and a Geiger-counter, and with a lot of Japanese music, we wanted to find out for ourselves what is going on in the region. It was a very emotional adventure, that was picked up by some of the international media.


With our Duo we'll be playing at the "Made in Asia" Festival on 13th September in Namur. We'll play a whole new repertoire of video-game tunes and music from Anime-films, all re-arranged for Viola d'Amore and Viennese Bass. This time however, i'll use a so-called EUB, Electric Upright Bass, fitted with frets and gut strings in Viennese Tuning. I guess that'll be a world premiere. We're planning on developing not only our "historical" side, but also a more modern way of using old instruments. We already have pop, folk and film music in our repertoire, but we want to take it a few steps further by using sound effects, loop stations etc. In our book there is no contradiction between "serious" classical music and "amusement" music. Anyway, much of what we now consider to be serious music WAS amusement music, in one way or another.

As usual, Haruko made the preliminary sketches for the new pieces, which is a hell of a lot of work, and then we sat and played together, trying out ideas until we arrived at the kind of "transcriptions" that have become our trademark. Most of our repertoire is continually in progress anyhow, as new inspiration finds its way into the existing scores.


The Monnaie Bass Section is changing... many people have or will be retired, and we're happy to welcome José Vilaplana as one of our new colleagues!


Haruko is now in Japan, where she will play a preview-concert of some of our Video-game tunes as well as some pop music with a local pianist whom we met last March.


New critical editions of two Sperger Concert Aria's for Soprano and Double Bass are in preparation. They are part of Korneel's artistic doctorate at the Brussels School of Arts. 

Other items in the doctorate will be the World Premiere recording (and the publication) of the 4 Suites for Solo Double Bass by Jacques Vanherenthals, with each Suite played on a different bass and in a different tuning (from the 7-String Violone d'Amore, over Viennese Bass, to the modern bass in fourths), then there's a recording of Giuseppe Lupis's "Codex Lupensis" in 5 different shapes, tentatively entitled "The Five Seasons", and the DVD "From Brussels With Love" that we made last year for the ISB Convention in Rochester, N.Y.


Sunday 5 January 2014

It's been a long time since we updated the "News" - section...

But our Japanese adventures of last summer can be found under the heading "Japan Blog", and the concerts under "Past Concerts" or "Next Concerts".

In fact, so many things happen all the time that there is scarcely ever a moment to sit down and write about it.

To start with the most recent event, last friday Korneel played a Bottesini Extravaganza concert at Brussels' opera house La Monnaie : "I Grandi Duetti Virtuosi".

Together with orchestra colleagues Raymond Dils (clarinet) and Janos Csikos (bass), and with young talents Daniel Kuzmin (violin) and Hiroko Fukushima (piano), he performed in three Duetti : the Gran Duo's for violin and bass, and for clarinet and bass, and to top it all off, the beautiful "Passione Amorosa" for two double basses, with the introduction taken from the Duetto on Rossini themes, also by Bottesini.

In the packed Grand Foyer at La Monnaie, the audience was delighted to witness this artistic tour de force, and many listeners wrote us mails with comments.

We'll probably repeat the same programme a few times in 2014 at different locations. Composer/arranger extraordinaire David Miller offered to arrange an "encore" for the whole team of musicians. We're quite curious what he'll come up with. He suggested names such as Duke Ellington and Georges Brassens...

Going back in time, in october Korneel played at the Schiermonnikoog Festival in october (Nonet by Rheinberger on the modern bass, and Vivaldi cello sonatas with Roel Dieltiens, on baroque bass - all with Patrick Charton's B21 bass with interchangeable necks).

In summer we had our Building Bridges Japan Tour. A day-by-day report can be found in "Japan Blog 2013".

In between there were chamber music concerts, most notably our PQBM concert at La Monnaie's Fiocco Hall, with works by Hoffmeister, Leopold Mozart and Matthias Sperger, and the namesake Aria by W.A.Mozart "Per Questa Bella Mano". 

The whole concert was filmed in HD and was used for our DVD "From Brussels With Love", that is part of Korneel's artistic doctorate. Further footage for the film was shot at Rosario cultural centre in Bever and at Brussels Protestant Church.

The Monnaie concert got a very nice mention in "The New York Times" (see "Press") and the DVD received high praise on the website.

Sunday 24 February 2013

So many things happened since December...

Our Japan Tour in July is fully booked. We're playing 11 concerts in 14 days. After a week in northern Italy at the Grumo Festival, we'll fly to Japan on the 14th. 

The new bass by Patrick Charton is nearing completion. And so is the new piece that Giuseppe Lupis is writing for our Duo Sweet 17.
We're very curious... Both the new bass and the new piece will be part of our international tours.
Recording projects for the Duo and for Ensemble PQBM are under way.
The Video we're shooting for the Bass Convention in Rochester, N.Y. (4th of June) will contain live concert recordings, interviews with bass and bow makers, a look behind-the-scenes of research and rehearsing, and much more.
Korneel gave a lecture-recital at Brussels Conservatory on Articulations in Viennese Classical bass Music, with a strong link to philosophy and the real-life implications of musicological research. The text of this lecture will be posted on Korneel's new blog, which will be launched very soon now.

Monday 17 December 2012

We've been quite busy at the opera with a new production of La Traviata and with Die Fledermaus, but we've also been working on some new projects. We'll be playing at the GRUMO festival in Tesero, Italy the first week of July and our Japan tour is planned for the second half of the same month.

Any student interested in joining the Festival can find all necessary information here.

Pierre Van Engeland transformed one of my basses into a 5-string D-violone and it works beautifully! He also lent me one of his own gambas for a while. It's an old 7-string instrument and i just love its sound and its character.
Tomorrow we're doing a photo session of some of our instruments. We need pictures of Kimiko's Fortepiano by Schott (a wonderful old instrument that we'll use for some of our future concerts and recordings - some Schubert amongst others, information on our Schubert project coming soon...) and of our various violas and basses.
In April we'll record the Casadesus Symphony Concertante. We found a wonderful location and a fantastic piano for the recording... to be confirmed early 2013.
In a couple of days, on December 22th, our November concert with Il Gardellino will be broadcast on German radio WDR 3. Here is the link to more information:

Haruko is playing concerti for Viola d'Amore by Vivaldi and Graupner, while Korneel is sawing away at his bass in the background.

Friday 16 November 2012

Just got back from a rock concert. Ian Anderson and his new band played at the Brussels Royal Circus, and my daughter Viola got us some tickets.

First impression during/after the concert : absolutely amazing. Easily in my Top -5 of best concerts i've heard, including classical music.
It reminds me again of how much classical musicians can learn from other genres. Good music is good music. Great playing and communicating, personality, artistic integrity and performance skills are common to all good musicians.
Haruko and i have very different musical backgrounds. Haruko grew up in a disciplined system, and she started at age 3, studying violin and piano for many hours a day. Japanese system.
My own beginnings were in pop and rock, and i really feel that all the essentials, the things that truly matter in music, i learned back then. Not in conservatory. I recognize those things when i hear great musicians, no matter what music they play : the really important things are the same.
Tonight i learned a lot from listening and watching these incredible musicians.

Tuesday 12 November 2012

Back from Germany where we both played at the Ancient Music Festival, Haruko as a Viola d'Amore soloist in Vivaldi and Graupner concerti. Haruko was interviewed for a blog about the festival :

Today i went through some old DAT tapes of past concerts and transferred them to Hard Disc for later use. Some interesting things there. World premieres of works by Dirk D'Haese (6 Capricci for solo double bass), Patrick Declerck (La Figlia Che Piange, for soprano, double bass and piano), a private rehearsal/coaching with Antonio Pappano on piano (Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata), Sperger and Bottesini Aria's for soprano and double bass... Nice stuff !

Struggling with the viola da gamba right now... But it's good to feel like a complete beginner again, in a way.

Tuesday 5 November 2012

A new blog by Korneel, called "Building Bridges" will start in January 2013. It will be part of Korneel's Artistic Doctorate at Brussels Conservatory / V.U.B. and will contain articles, images,

questions and philosophic reflections on a wide range of music-related subjects. More information coming soon.

Today Igor Pecevski posted a nice review of our CD on his site, :

We also added some more flattering messages in "QUOTES AND COMMENTS". They just keep coming in. We're very happy that our playing is so well received by music lovers of all kinds, including the specialists. It's hard to please everybody but it seems we're getting close. This gives us the courage to continue on our journey of Building Bridges. We're planning the next CD with our Ensemble Per Questa Bella mano (PQBM), and we're working on a DVD project in collaboration with La Monnaie, European Opera House of the Year in 2011. More news on these exciting new projects will be available in spring...

Monday 4 November 2012

All of last week was spent rehearsing, recording and playing concerts with Il Gardellino: Cantatas by Bach and Telemann.

Today we had an audition for Konzertmeister at the Opera.
On wednesday we start rehearsing with Il Gardellino again, for the d'Amore concert in Herne, Germany. Haruko Tanabe and Mayumi Hirasaki will be playing concerti for Viola d'Amore by Vivaldi, Graupner and Telemann. The concert takes place on Sunday the 11th, at 11 a.m. in Herne's Kulturzentrum.
Our violinist Naoko Ogura gave birth to Lisa a few days ago. Mother and baby are doing fine.

Monday 29 October 2012

Last saturday evening the Monnaie Orchestra played a concert at Brussels' Bozar Concert Hall. On the program : Schönberg's Kammersymphonie, Brahms 2, Webern and Zemlinsky. Today i rehearsed all day with Il Gardellino for a recording project and two concerts with music by Bach and Telemann. In between, Duo Sweet 17 has been working on new repertoire : music by André Klénes, Kreisler and Borghi. We also got some music from a South-African composer that we have to have a look at. 

The modern musician has to be flexible...

And today i received the final version of Bottesini's Elegy which i recorded last year for a CD-box of historical romantic instruments. The CD is due for release early in 2013. I played the piece in Viennese Tuning.

We posted a new video on YouTube yesterday. It's from our PQBM Autumn Concert : Hoffmeister's 3rd Solo Quartet for Viennese Bass, Violin, Viola and Cello. All on original instruments or copies.

The Casadesus Symphonie Concertante will probably be recorded at Piano's Maene in Ruiselede. Mr. Maene is a great authority in the piano world and in his showroom he has several specimens of historical pianos. So we'll go there soon to choose an instrument for the recording and to test the acoustics of the room.

Plans for a performance of PQBM at the Bass Convention in Rochester, N.Y. are advancing. The convention will take place in the first week of June, 2013. We will present a varied program with 3 or 4 different basses and violones at the Convention's Ancient Music Seminar.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Plans for a tour of Japan next summer !
The new Charton bass will enable us to travel abroad much more easily. We'll be in Japan for two weeks in July, travelling around and playing with Duo Sweet 17. Working on new repertoire now, some lighter music for all occasions as well as more solid material: Borghi Sonata, film music, Kreisler, Japanese music...

Tomorrow night at the Flagey Concert Hall, i'll be playing with the Danel Quartet in a Debussy program. They will present their new CD of the French composer's chamber music. The 5-string bass i'm using will be tuned A-D-A-D-G (bottom to top) for increased resonance.

Monday 14th October 2012

Today i got confirmation that i'm enrolled in Philippe Pierlot's Viola da Gamba class at Brussels Conservatory. 
The gamba course is part of the research for my doctorate. I'm really looking forward to learning a lot of new things. Trying to squeeze in at least one hour of gamba each day : it's a challenge in itself.
Last week we were in Paris, trying to locate some music manuscripts in the libraries there. And we found them... We'll go back as soon as possible for more treasure hunting. Whilst in Paris, we visited Patrick Charton who is starting work on my newly commissioned bass, which we called the BASSE-PARTOUT. It's a further evolution of Patrick's B 21 with detachable neck, and it's going to be the mother of all hybrid double basses :-)
Mine will have Hipshot bass D-tuners and extenders on all strings, both on the headstock and at the tailpiece. This will enable lightning-fast changes of tuning for various styles of music. 
There will be a soundhole in the upper rib for increased control in noisy orchestras, a choice of 4, 5 and 6-string headstocks, and a personalised look to top it all off. 
Patrick is a fantastic guy, open to all kinds of crazy ideas and capable of realizing them. Just have a look at his site. There is also some YouTube footage of his basses.
Since the Paris trip, i've had some more new ideas for the bass, which i hope we can discuss together soon.

Wednesday 3rd october 2012

A rainy day...

While Haruko is struggling with Lulu, the new Monnaie production, and studying Graupner and Vivaldi for the Il Gardellino concert in Germany, i'm down in the basement preparing Schönbergs Kammersymphonie (one of my favorite bass parts) and the next PQBM and Sweet 17 programs.

In october i'm doing a short lecture at Brussels Conservatory, about the hows and whys of doctorates. There will be some musical examples as well, not sure yet which ones. 

In january, again at the Conservatory, i'll hold a lecture about Viennese Bass music, more precisely about articulations and bowings in relation to expression and to the "story" that the music is telling. The works of Vanhal and Sperger will serve as examples of how to read and interpret the manuscript articulations and how to avoid painful mistakes. And about why the original articulations are so interesting, especially in connection with the Viennese Tuning. Often the articulations show you the way to a fingering that works well with a certain passage.

Last monday i took my black Hack bass to the gamba maker for a new fingerboard. The old one was too hollow and too short. I played the Casadesus Symphonie Concertante on this bass, part of it is on YouTube (duo sweet 17 Casadesus). The piece will be on our next PQBM recording.

One of my other basses is being transformed into a 5-string D-violone. Hope that will work well.

We put a YouTube link in "PAST CONCERTS" of Bach's Hohe Messe with Il Gardellino and Capella Amsterdam, last month at the Festival of Ancient Music in Utrecht, Holland. Wonderful music and a fine performance.

Saturday 29th September 2012

First day of rest in a loooong time. Opera, Baroque Ensemble, Kopenhagen Bass Convention, CD recording, Autumn Concert, coaching young baroque students at Lemmens-instituut, planning next recordings and concerts, tons of paperwork. It never stops. But when you have the passion, you can do everything you set your mind to.

This weekend we'll do some more administration, and study our Italian lessons for monday. Monday is Italian day for us. Monday afternoon somebody is picking up one of the Viole d'Amore for a concert with Il Gardellino in November. Three of Haruko's Amores will be played in that concert, in music by Vivaldi, Graupner and Telemann. Korneel (Violone) and Haruko (Amore and Violin) will be playing with Marcel Ponseele, Jan Dewinne and Mayumi Hirasaki. The concert will be in our "Next Concerts" chapter soon.

If there is time, i'll go and see my violone maker, Pierre van Engeland. I would like him to convert one of my basses to a D- Violone. I have a feeling it's going to be a great instrument for baroque ensemble.

Reactions on our latest YouTube video (Duo Sweet 17 : Casadesus Symphonie Concertante) and on our latest Concert are so positive! (see Quotes and Comments). The world premiere live recording contains only the first movement because our new Zoom camera ran out of battery power one minute into the 2nd movement... That'll teach us. 
Anyway, it'll be re-recorded for our next PQBM-CD.

In June PQBM will play a live concert in Brussels, that will be streamed directly through internet to the International ISB Bass Convention in Rochester, N.Y. This is another World Premiere, and we're very happy that the Brussels Conservatory will be collaborating with us on this prestigious project. On the program : Mozart "Per Questa Bella Mano KV 612, Casadesus, Ariosti Sonata, Hoffmeister Quartet nr.1, and a new piece by American Composer Giuseppe Lupis (who also wrote music for our great friend Enrico Fagone, amongst others). 
Giuseppe is working on the piece as i write, and we're very curious about the music. The music that we've heard from Lupis is wonderfully imaginative, lively and humorous. He's writing for our Duo Sweet 17.

Sweet 17 at the Copenhagen International Bass Convention, 17th August 2012 - BASS 2012

We arrived by night train from Brussels. After locating the hotel we took a taxi to the Opera House, which,strangely, is quite difficult to access by car. The building is absolutely magnificent, right on the waterfront. The front lobby with its enormous windows overlooking the water was the meeting place and exhibition room for the bass, bow and string makers, all of them with big stands and many many instruments. 

The soundscape was quite spectacular, with so many players testing instruments (for some reason the first few bars of Koussevitzky were the absolute number 1 hit all week long...) We didn't see a single baroque or viennese bass though... We went up the enormous, royal flight of stairs to the first floor where even more bass makers had their stands, and where we met Stefan Krattenmacher. Stefan is the luthier who made the 5-string Viennese Violone after Feilenreiter that i'm playing, and that i brought to Kopenhagen for our Duo Sweet 17 recital. Not having played for the last two days, we were anxious to get the instruments out and to warm up a bit, so after greeting Stefan we just started playing the Sperger Sonata at the bass stand. 

In just a few minutes the stand was surrounded by players and visitors, and after we finished the sonata there was a big round of applause. Bass players are supportive and generous people... We met Frank Wittich and Darija Andzakovich there. It was good to see Frank, we'd been in touch by mail for some time but this was our first meeting. Darija turned out to be a very witty lady with a lot of humor, besides being a source of knowledge about all things Sperger, so we all got along really well. Unfortunately we couldn't hear their lecture-recital because rehearsal schedules and performances often conflicted with each other. By the way, the staff did an incredible job organizing all these events and they were all so helpful and professional. 

We also met Oskar Kappelmayer, who is a bass maker specialised in Viennese Basses and another very nice man. We had a good look around the stands. Lots of new basses, some old ones. As i said, no basses with gut strings or period set-up (or i must have missed them). A few newly-made violones were on show, as well as a few period bows. One that drew my attention was a copy of the so-called Sperger Bow. Honestly i can't imagine that Sperger ever used this bow for his solo works. It's big and clumsy and not very well balanced. If you've ever played his pieces with the original articulations, you know how delicate they are. So either the original bow does have all the qualities needed (contrary to the copy that i saw), or Sperger must have had a very different bow for his solo works. 

Rehearsals at the Provesaal 7 were tightly scheduled. At rehearsal we met our dear friend Enrico Fagone, he stayed to listen for a while because he couldn't be at the recital later on. He's such a nice guy as well as a fantastic musician, and it's always a pleasure to meet him. 

Right after us, Dean Ferrell had his rehearsal. Dean is just amazing. I discovered him on YouTube and he just blew me away. He's larger-than-life. A player and an actor-singer, a real performer with incredible chops on the Viennese Bass and absolutely crazy (and i mean that as a compliment). 

At our recital we played Ariosti, Stamitz and Sperger sonatas. We had also prepared some Danish and Japanese music, but we were interrupted by staff because the next recital had to be prepared in the hall. Indeed, originally we had been given a one-hour slot, but it was reduced to 45 minutes and we weren't told about it. No problem, just a pity that there was no time for the "lighter" part of the program. Anyway, the recital went very well. It was such a pleasure to play for an audience of colleagues and bass lovers, and to play music for them that they never heard before. 

Afterwards we listened to Dean's performance. It was a real theatre show, with a singer, a pianist and bass virtuoso Mark Morton. Dean being the impersonation of Pichlberger, dressed as in Mozart's time, Mark being Bottesini and both of them trying to seduce the soprano with their playing. Hilarious and fascinating. Later on i had a long talk with Dean about various aspects of playing, philosophy, history, science... I learned a lot that day. 

Sadly, we had to leave soon after our recital and we missed the "Battle of Copenhagen" on the river. But duty called and we had other obligations back home. Kopenhagen 2012 was an unforgettable experience. I just hope that the historical basses will get more attention in future. I've had about all the Koussevitzky and all the cello transcriptions i can take...

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