Introspection 1 - 1972
Arranged and conducted by Rogier van Otterloo
THIJS VAN LEER: flute
Music Arranged & Conducted by ROGIER VAN OTTERLOO
LETTY DE JONG: voice
Produced by Ruud Jacobs
It seems unfair that some people are so much more talented than others. THIJS VAN LEER is one of those more-than-usually gifted musicians. He could have been a concert pianist for instance. Born the last day of March 1948, he caressed the keys when still in the tiniest of toddlers, started up studying seriously when he was all of three years old and became the often praised pupil of locally famous pianists like Maria Stroo and Gerard Hengeveld. When he was thirteen, he became interested in jazz and pretty soon played fine harmonic variations on "Stella by Starlight" and other beautiful ballads. Van Leer Senior, however, was not very happy to see a possible Mozart gradually becoming a probable Bill Evans. Being an extraordinary flute player himself, he started to teach young Thijs the intricacies of this old and difficult instrument.
Meanwhile, the musical prodigy did very well in school. His finished his Gymnasium-studies in record time and even proved to have more arrows to his cultural bow than people had expected: during an inter-scholar match, he proved himself an exciting actor in Shakespeare, did some declamation of his own poetry, played and flute and finally sang a song he had just composed in true Richard Rogers-style: music and lyrics. It was then that I had the fortune to discover Thijs van Leer and I took him to his recording session in 1967. This resulted in a single nobody took notice of. I also introduced Van Leer to Ramses Shaffy, who was just forming a new cabaret group and soon young Thijs made his professional debut on stages all over the country.
Meanwhile he studied the History of Art, took lessons in harmony and counterpoint at the Amsterdam Conservatory and painted many pictures. Success had to come one way or another. It came when he formed his own group with equally talented Jan Akkerman, a guitar player of great virtuosity and his group called FOCUS, has now won prizes in Festivals all over Europe, as well as the 1971 Edison Award, apart from being a top-selling bunch of record makers. This is the first solo LP Thijs van Leer has made. It goes back to Bach in some numbers, it shows his classical training, it proves his ability as a flute player. It also shows his remarkable sense of style and form.
Whether you hear Fauré's lovely Pavane or Van Leer's own FOCUS I and II, you will be thrilled by the whole conception and realisation of his music. A word of praise should be printed for Rogier van Otterloo, who wrote so many fine arrangements for Rita Reys and others and who came up this time (being a pianist and flute player himself) with truly lush orchestral backgrounds, in which a prominent part is played, or rather sung, by young soprano Letty de Jong.
So there it is: an LP featuring a still very young but unusually gifted performer named Thijs van Leer, whose name you're bound to hear many times in the future and whose kind of music should appeal to anyone with good ears and taste.
Picture sent by Tim.