A short explanation of the title is due.
Well, I didn't mean it with a modern use of the term. It came naturally to mind by thinking about the 15th century art and music that was produced around what we now call Holland, Belgium and France. More than Josquin or Ockeghem, Bosch and the later Bruegel were my indirect inspiration, which they delivered through their detailed descriptivism, be that magical and surreal, or portraying the daily mundane life.
And why Fantasy? I consciously referred to its musicological meaning, as it has always been one of the most free and improvisation-like forms of Western classical music.
I would like to remind (more myself than the listeners) that at the beginning of the composition process, each section of the piece had in fact its own title before losing its identity for the “greater” good. I will report some of them, as they might be able to spark the listener’s imagination: Mind Travelling, Drone King, Announcement, Sleep Paralysis, Song of Birch.
A Flemish Fantasy started as a challenge to myself. After months of complete lack of music practice, during the first Covid lockdown, I fortunately “stumbled” across a folder on my laptop that grew unconsciously nearly out of my control during the years. This Folder, which is still called “Concreta'' collects every sound, noise or soundscape that I recorded since nearly three years ago, from wine glasses to pans, doors, cars, chairs, jackhammers, guitars, harpsichords, voices, birds, wind, etc. Together with at least two hours of different improvisations on digital synthesizers. After many months of what seemed like complete music stillness, I realized that I did not stop being a musician at all, and in fact, I was just changing my tools. I embraced the change and, releasing myself from the “burden” of my main voice (my clarinets), I decided to compose something using every possible sound but my main instruments.
A Flemish Fantasy is more likely describable as a collage of collaborations. Many other people are secretly or openly featured in this work. Some with just their voices, others with instrumental improvisations. Not all of them are recognizable in anyway but nonetheless it is fair for me to credit them; these are their names: Mum and Dad, Celia Tort Pujol, Katerina Ourfanoudaki (all voices), Reed Puleo (drums), Paolo Gorini (Seaboard), Virginia Sutera (violin) and Audinga Musteikyte (on a percussion, or sound installation, which resides in Bijlmerweide, Amsterdam, that I baptized as the “Whale’s Belly Xylophone”).
Last but not least, none of this could have been made without Ermanno Novali’s Help!
Finally, a big thanks to Guillermo Martin-Viana for the beautiful visual teasers. Check them out.