Raphaella Smits
One was transposed back into the 19th century ...

Presenters Piet Andriessen and Françoise-Emanuelle Denis









press kit





The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium
for Sciences and Arts


The official presentation of
"Harmonie du soir"

April 22, 2004


Rene Jochems xxxxxxxx Hans Rombaut


At 7 p.m. the audience was welcomed by Rene Jochems. They were 93 friends, colleagues, organizers and people from the press to attend this official presentation.

Hans Rombaut of The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts expressed his satisfaction that the event could take place at this prestigeous venue, a palace build in 1772. He explained proudly the meaning of the ornamentation that matched perfectly the period of Mertz and Giuliani as well as the Mirecourt and Roudhloff guitars.


Odair Assad admires Raphaella's instrument


After a brief biography of Raphaella Smits, Piet Andriessen introduced her CD 'Harmonie du soir':

Let me tell you something about this musician by means of two CD's - the one issued today and the first one Raphaella recorded for the Accent label about 15 years ago. Both recordings are devoted to the work of Mauro Giuliani and Johan Kaspar Mertz, who was some 25 years younger. Giuliani, from Naples, was a contemporary of Beethoven, Schubert and Von Weber. Mertz, from Bratislava, was a contemporary of Schumann and Mendelssohn. Both worked in Vienna, so Viennese early-Romanticists.


Compliments of Baron Eugene Traey, former president of the Queen Elizabeth Competition

For the first CD Raphaella Smits played her beloved 8-string guitar by John Gilbert, a Rolls-Royce, the Steinway of the guitar: sonorous, beautifully well-balanced from top to bottom. Quite rightly the title of the CD is 'The Romantic Guitar'. It's perfect for a dinner by candle-light or for later. I don't mean to run it down, it's just a fact that one of the greatest qualities of this recording is its pure beauty of sound, a richness I would describe as sensual. Linked to the absolute serenity of Raphaella's playing, the feeling that 'everything is under control' which you get listening to her, that even the hardest parts are easy, and all that, combined with a matchless rhythmic timing, makes this CD, even today 15 years later, pure joy. A German critic once wrote about a concert: "In zwei Stücke von Mertz ging es schwelgerisch zu. Gelegentlich meinte man Chopin auf die gitarre zu hören." ["In two pieces by Mertz things were sumptuous. From time to time one thought that one was listening to Chopin on the guitar."] Right, but then again, Chopin played by someone like Horovitz on a modern grand piano.


Chatting away with Paul Rans & Walter Couvreur, both producers of radio Klara

The new CD sounds totally different. The grand piano is moved aside and replaced by a Viennese fortepiano, smaller, lighter, with leather hammerheads instead of soft felt. And yet, this is anything but the replacement of a rich instrument by a 'precursor', by an older and less voluptuous example.

From what I know of her, Raphaella is not the person to retreat for a long period to study historical tracts and sources. She prefers to go the way of the interested musician with wide open ears. She bought old instruments because she was fascinated by them, and maybe because she had experienced how it helped people like Jos Van Immerseel to get closer to the authentic sound. Then she listened to the instrument itself. She didn't think of the Mirecourt as a mini-Gilbert; she let herself be guided by the specific characteristics of this 'other' instrument. A guitar, sure, but a guitar with its very own capabilities and colours.


Toasting with Andreas Glatt,
producer of Accent Records

The quest for a beautiful sonority on an historic instrument is one thing, a difficult challenge, but it's only half the story. When one listens carefully - and that is what Raphaella has done and what makes her a great musician - when one listens well, the instrument tells you how to handle the music from its own age, and then the music will tell you a whole new story. Also Romantic, sure, even without candle-light. It must have taken her a lot of time and a lot of patience, but the new CD is fundamentally different, and in my opinion richer. The magic may be a little less, but it allows one, without being overwhelmed, to listen to the musical message of two composers that are well worth the effort.

Pieter Andriessen,
22 april 2004.


After the presentation of Piet Andriessen, musicologist and former head of Radio Klara, Raphaella played on het Roudhloff guitar.
Then Françoise Emanuelle Denis, musicologist and producer of GHA-Records, gave an intereting lecture about early 19th century instruments and how the way of playing evolved in that period.
Finally Raphaella played her Mirecourt guitar.
The elegant evening ended with a glas of good wine ...


< Back >



  - Last update : 2 MAY 2004 - rejo © -