After our concert in Bussum (this time, a lovely Yamaha grand piano in a dry space with low system ceilings — can one ever get 100% perfect surroundings for a live concert?) we drove eastward to Ermelo, a place that holds magic for those not acquainted with nature and its secrets.
The previous (and second) time we came here, Robert Bekkers and his guitar duo gave a concert, followed by a tasty, home-cooked dinner. I was a mere spectator then. Earlier, on our first visit, we gave a small concert on guitar and keyboards. [Or was it just guitar solo? My memory escapes me – hence the reason for this blog!]
Both were intimate occasions, with a local audience comprising of neighbours in this forested community. Those lucky city dwellers, who retreat to their country houses on weekends and holidays, have an appreciation for the finer things in life. Besides the sounds of nature, they can enjoy (in a relaxed environment) the fruits of their labour, such as new guitars made by the Amsterdam-based luthier Jeroen Hilhorst.
Robert considers it a privilege to be the one to try out Jeroen’s new guitars, hot off the press. Secretly, however, he wants to make sure his own isn’t inferior to the new ones. Jeroen makes only 6 concert guitars per year, 2 at a time, on order for his international clients. On our third visit, Jeroen surprised us with three (not two) new guitars.
First Robert warmed up his fingers on his own guitar, which Jeroen had custom-built for him in November 2005. The concert guitar has served our piano guitar duo well, for it’s much louder than the normal guitar, allowing me to be free on the grand piano.
But it’s not the volume that makes such concert guitars so special. I can only compare it to quality mature red wine, the kind that causes an eruption of “aaaaah!” and makes you want to drink more of it after each sip. The sound surrounds you, like the way the “reserve” red wine fills your body with warmth. The more you listen to it, the more you want to drown in it and forget the world.
I suppose you only wake up to how special Jeroen’s guitars are when you listen to a “normal” classical guitar. Indeed, Robert doesn’t even allow me to touch his concert guitar.