Eclipse, vol. 2: Hans Henkemans

Mattias Spee

There are many treasures to be discovered in the history of music. If you are just a little bit curious, a boundless world opens up, full of hidden gems, that hide from the general audience. It is one of my big passions to look for those treasures and to shine a light on them. This passion led me to make a series of albums entitled Eclipse, featuring music that nobody knows, but everyone should know. Around the time we released the first volume of this series, with music by Joseph Wölfl, I was approached by conductor Ed Spanjaard. He was in the process of setting up a foundation in order to restore the legacy of Dutch pianist/composer Hans Henkemans to its proper status and he wanted a young pianist, who was open-minded towards unknown repertoire, to be involved with the foundation. Most of those involved, were people who had known Henkemans personally and, as Henkemans died before I was born, they were from an older generation than myself. My involvement was to show the next generation of musicians the way towards Hans Henkemans’s music.

I had never heard Henkemans’s name or music before, but that didn’t stop me from being intrigued. Spanjaard told me the story of his life-long friendship with Henkemans and he revealed to me that Henkemans had left him all of his manuscripts, most of them never published and never premiered. I spent several afternoons cataloguing all unpublished manuscripts for solo piano. A lot of the scores were untidy and unfinished and many of them were clearly nothing more than youthful experiments that were never fully developed into proper compositions. There were, however, a few scores that looked promising and after I struggled my way through the hand-written notes on the sepia-colored paper, adorned with corrective pen-strokes, illegible instructions and several entirely crossed-out sections, it started to dawn on me: I had struck gold.

This music had an incredible expressiveness, it was modest and subtle, not at all in-your-face, but very powerful. The musical vocabulary was difficult to put into a category. There was definitely something very Dutch about it and it was clearly influenced by composers like Claude Debussy, Francis Poulenc and Willem Pijper, yet it was also very personal and unlike anything I had ever come across. It soon became clear that this had to be second volume of the Eclipse series. In February of 2022, at the official establishment of the Stichting Hans Henkemans (Hans Henkemans Foundation), I premiered Henkemans’s sonatina for piano, one of the unpublished manuscripts I mentioned before. Over the course of the following months, I premiered the 1939 composition Andante con moto and the 1930 composition Adagio & Variations, all of which can be heard on this album. The track list for the album was completed with Henkemans’s grandiose sonata for piano and his vibrant concerto for piano and strings, for which I collaborated with the South Netherlands Philharmonic, conducted by Ed Spanjaard. I am extremely proud of the result and beyond grateful for the opportunity to share this marvelous music with you.

There are many people, whom I would like to thank for their support in the process making this album, first of all Ed Spanjaard, who has shown great trust in me by providing me with Henkemans’s unpublished manuscripts and by working together with me to bring the concerto for piano and strings to life. The other people involved with the Hans Henkemans Foundation, including Erik Boom, Jac van Steen, Melchior Huurdeman, Jaap Hülsmann and Vincent van Wijk, have been instrumental to the realization of this album as well. Then, there are the musicians and staff of the South Netherlands Philharmonic, with whom I had a wonderful collaboration. This recording was their last project before the summer vacation and with this in the back of their mind, they gave it their all in the two days we worked together. I owe a debt of gratitude to my friends and colleagues Carlos Marín Rayo, Frank van de Laar and Willem Jeths for helping me prepare for the recording. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Brendon Heinst, Bart Koop, Hans Erblich and Maya Fridman from record label TRPTK, for tirelessly working on this project with me, for daring to go along with me dreaming big and for placing their unwavering trust in me. I would also like to thank the staff of Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven for graciously hosting us during the recording. Furthermore, I would like to thank the sponsors, whose support made this album possible in the first place: the Hans Henkemans Foundation, the Jacques Vonk Foundation, the Van den Berch van Heemstede Foundation and the South Netherlands Philharmonic. Lastly, I would like to thank you, listener, for sharing the experience of this wonderful music with me.


Componist: Hans Henkemans + Mattias Spee Pianist: Mattias Spee Orkest: philzuid Dirigent: Ed Spanjaard Opname- en mastering engineer: Brendon Heinst Editor: Hans Erblich Pianostemmer: Marc van Hoorn Cover art: Jac van Exter