articles & reviews

Four-star review of The Stolz Quartet's CD
[...Haikus by De Vries, 4 Preludes to infinity by Verbey and a fragment from Zuidam's 'A love unsung' are a lot more accessible, lyrical and more melodious, with a highlight being the splendid third movement, 'Religious', from Verbey's 'Preludes', in which the composer gets under the skin of seventeenth century counterpoint.
Verbey also provided the arrangement of Scriabin's 4 Preludes. 33, four ultra short poetic sketches...]
By Erik Voermans
5 June, 2014
Het Parool (Amsterdam daily paper)
'Dutch Masters' from The Stolz
"The Stolz Quartet (oboe and string trio) plays music from Dutch contemporary composers. New works but also compositions arranged for them of works by Maurice Ravel, Alexander Scriabin and Franz Liszt. The result is an excellent and balanced collection of 20th century music.[...]Composer Theo Verbey arranged four short piano preludes written by Scriabin and composed ’4 Preludes to Infinity’. Four compositions in which he used several compositional skills and shows the fragile sense of music.[...] It’s obvious, this quartet loves the music they play which overleaps to the listener and makes them enthusiastic as well."
By Mattie Poels
March 9, 2014
Jean-Guihen Queyras and Ensemble Resonanz, Berg, Lyrische Suite, Schoenberg, Verklärte Nacht
"Hearing both works in the string orchestra version in this way heightens the expressiveness of each work and, at least to me, allows us to see the similarities. (,,,) Queyras and Ensemble Resonanz give us soaring renditions of both works. If the "Lyric Suite" seems in the string orchestra version virtually new, it is no doubt my reaction after a near lifetime of appreciating the quartet version. It may take a little more careful listening for the balance of thematic materials to re-emerge (if you like me are used to the quartet reading), but it may give us a different set of insights and appreciate the expressive angst of the work all the more." by Grego Applegate Edwards, January 22, 2014
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
Transparent and Passionate
"Berg's Lyric Suite was written around 1925. It is a work that more or less follows Arnold Schoenberg's 12-tone method with, appropriately, lyric and hyper-romantic gestures from a string quartet (original version). In 1929, Berg set three movements of the Suite for string orchestra. Somewhere around 2010, the whole work was recast for orchestral strings, and the present version is, evidently, the first commercial recording of this version.(...) This CD provides wondrously clear and moving performances of two major works of 20th century modernism. The first rate musicianship of the performers and the silvery, reflective recorded sound make this a recording that I will return to again and again. I love the original versions of both these works. But these versions, if they need it, are justified by this extremely attractive recording." by Stephen McLeod, 26 January, 2014
Osiris Trio review on Musicframes
A link to a review by Mattie Poels, of the
Osiris Trio's new ’25th Anniversary Box’ on Challenge Records. Review in Dutch and English
Stolz Quartet Review

'Theo Verbey, in addition to arranging Scriabin for the quartet, wrote a new work for the ensemble called 'Four preludes to infinity'. Fireworks are suddenly heard, from the oboe against the misty sounds of the strings... Music with balls, I wrote in the margin'.
By Marianne de Feijter
October 17, 2013
(Translation: Google)
Muziek van Nu
The terror of games: RIAS Chamber Choir and Ensemble musikFabrik at Musikfest Berlin
'If there were a gold medal for programming at Musikfest Berlin, it would go to last night’s concert with the RIAS Chamber Choir, Ensemble musikFabrik, and a host of other musicians, gathered under the baton of James Wood. I award the prize (if only I could!) not only for the pieces that were played, both rare and alluring (Ríkadla, a late set of children’s rhymes from Janácek for choir and ten instruments; marches and the monstrous Verborgene Reime from Kagel; and the 1919 version of Stravinsky’s Les Noces, completed in 2007 by Theo Verbey, whose orchestration includes two cimbaloms and a pianola player!), nor only for the marathonic length of the program (which, along with the instrument changes, required two intermissions), but also for the programmatic links that bound this utterly zany line-up.'
by Dan Wang on 18th September 2013
Brodsky Quartet/Lixenberg – review

"[...] Antique musical references give character and a sense of direction to Theo Verbey's song based on Peter Huchel's text The Garden of Paracelsus".

by George Hall
Thursday 27 June 2013
The Guardian
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra Review
'...The concert began with Alban Berg's Piano Sonata, Op 1: an intensive twelve minutes that seem to float along in a style between late romanticism and modernism. Theo Verbey built the architectural waves in which the work is created, with a huge orchestral force that lets the piece build up again and again, returning to a simple string quartet. Between these waves, the brass and five (!) percussionists provide eruptive climaxes.

Mihkel Kütson and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin together unlocked all the facets of the piece, and it was like a fairy tale that is told in a foreign language - sealed in its own internal logic, but full of unexpected poetry...'
by Rosemarie Frühauf, June 10th, 2013
The Epoch Times
Gig review: Brodsky Quartet, Royal Conservatoire, Glasgow
'Verbey’s Spring Rain was immediately likeable and its sudden dramatic eruptions played well to the Brodskys’ love of the theatrical... '

By David Kettle
The Scotsman, 26-11-12
Review: GIMF – The Brodsky Quartet – Holy Trinity Church
Saturday 9 March 2013

by The Stage Dragon

'...To start the second half, the wheel turned up Theo Verbey’s Spring Rain. An atmospheric gem encapsulating the weather, Verbey’s work was one of those composed especially for the Brodsky Quartet. There was no doubt about the imagery of this piece and it went down a storm . There were raindrops, sometimes light, sometimes heavy, blended with a broad and sonorous violin tune.'
Guilford Dragon News
The Brodsky Quartet show their true musical colors at Utrecht's Vredenburg
'After reeling from the effects of the Shostakovich and a brief intermission mid-concert, the quartet took the stage once more to present the (their) first-ever Dutch performance of Theo Verbey’s Spring Rain. Yet another atmospheric gem capturing the most well-known facet of Dutch weather(...)
Sprinkled with light dropping effects and a sonorous violin melody above, the work is a microcosm of a storm taking place on stage'.
Submitted by Kristen Huebner on 19th November 2012
Amsterdam Sinfonietta: Debussy, Mussorgsky, Weinberg and Shostakovich
"Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death is a work that has been orchestrated many times by great names including Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and Shostakovich, which made me very curious as to what Theo Verbey’s 1994 orchestration would sound like. It stayed rather close to the original piano score (definitely more so than, for example, Shostakovich’s orchestration – which sounds as much like Shostakovich as it does Mussorgsky). This meant that the orchestra played a subdued role, which the Amsterdam Sinfonietta did surprisingly effectively. This allowed for the real star of the evening, mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn to become the focal point. Stotijn is an incredible singer: her voice is clear, warm and powerful and her stage presence is mesmerizing. But what made this performance memorable was her understanding and execution of the songs. In the first song, ‘Lullaby’, Stotijn demonstrated the different characters, the mother and Death, with intonation and body language, and she continued this throughout the song cycle. This meant that even for someone who does not understand a word of Russian, it is entirely clear what the songs mean and what is going on. Mussorgsky’s figure of Death has many different faces; he is seductive, soothing, aggressive, even joyful – and all of these elements were present in Stotijn’s performance."Submitted by Renée Reitsma, on 10th April 2012
Berg Lyric Suite decrypted - Audi, Amsterdam Sinfonietta Barbican
This wasn't just another concert. It was Liebestod, a truly unique exploration of Berg's Lyric Suite. Berg's piece is a compelling work, whose mysteries were only revealed about twenty years ago when the composer's letters to his lover Hanna Fuchs-Robettin were released...
Again, it's the Lyric Suite but not quite as we're used to. This time,instead of four instruments, it's arranged for larger forces (partly by Berg himself in 1928, the rest by Theo Verbey in 2005). This balances the intensity of the spoken passages and emphasizes the extreme "madness" Berg speaks of. Words and music intertwine, too, though the music isn't as abstract as might seem.
by Anne Ozorio
March 19th, 2011
Classical Iconoclast
"Dutch Master Triumphs on the Rhine"
"Regina van Berkel is one of the most outstanding Dutch choreographers. For her superb theatrical choreography, with the seemingly contradictory title "Frozen Echo", her fellow countryman, composer Theo Verbey, expanded an earlier orchestral piece into an extremely expressive triptych." (translation K. Schönberg)
Feb. 21st, 2011
Verbey Orchestral and Chamber Works
'Maybe Theo Verbey doesn’t transcend his times, but he does capture them in an engaging manner. Triade and Conciso are energetic and appealing, recalling Michael Torke in their vitality, but without the latter’s pristine soullessness. Verbey’s orchestration of Sunless, restrained and thoughtful, could alone guarantee him repertoire status.'
Dazzling Works: Contemporary music from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
"Theo Verbeij's LIED for trombone and orchestra seems, in fact, to be a succession of four 'songs' in which the soloist Jörgen van Rijen, the orchestra's principal trombone player and the composer's fellow Dutchman, makes his instrument sing with an overall gentleness and expressiveness that denies any popular impression of its bombast personality. Verbeij, who was born in 1959, handles the orchestra with deftness. In the last 'song' there is no doubt a touch of Stravinsky behind the agile trombone."
by Patric Standford
January 22, 2009
Record Box
The Grammar of Listening, by Frits van der Waal
In a famous story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges the Aleph is mentioned, ‘the place where all places of the earth come together, seen from all corners, without merging’. In the music of Theo Verbey one sees the same aspiration to universality. His oeuvre is less staggering and its diameter is less compact than
the two or three centimetres the author as cribed to the Aleph, but it is just as Borgesian in its kaleidoscopic richness and its many references to, for one, the work of Borges: the titles
of The Peryton (1990) and The Simorq (1989) are derived from his Book of Imaginary Beings.
Already in 1992 Verbey said, ‘I try to compose music that is influenced almost up to its saturation point: not by fifty, but by hundreds of years of tradition.’ The numerous compositions he has written since then confirm that his dialogue with the past has only become more labyrinthian and intense. In a way Verbey can be compared with the American John Adams, who is also painstakingly on the lookout for influences and absorbs them without renouncing his identity. However, the comparison is bound to fall short. Adam’s music has its roots in minimalism, while Verbey’s has its roots in serial music that is based on numerical structures, even though it has become a lot more consonant over the years. The influence of Boulez can still be heard in an early work like Inversie (Inversion, 1987) and until the present day his music is based on systems of numeric relations - a way of thinking that comes directly from the 50s and 60s, although the result is completely different in sound.
Verbey has named this process fractal technique, after the complex figures discovered by the Polish-French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, of which the shape is repeated down to infinite micro-levels (another idea that could have been taken from a story by Borges).
Brochure, Theo Verbey
Dishes From a Recipe for Eye and Ear
"...Theo Verbey’s “Man Ray — La Retour à la Raison” begins with repeating figures in the manner of 1970s Minimalism and morphs gracefully into a rich, atonal piece."
by Allan Kozinn
April 6th, 2009
New York Times
Wine, Woman and Song: a Bushel of Berg
Theo Verbey’s 1984 orchestration of Berg’s opus 1, his 1908 Piano Sonata, is a persuasive translation into a Wozzeck-esque tone poem; while the pianistic origins of the textures aren’t completely transformed, Verbey provides a myriad of instrumental touches that move beyond mere transcription.

Alban Berg: Orchestral Works
Isabelle van Keulen, violin
Geraldine McGreevy, soprano
Robert Murray, tenor
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Mario Venzago, conductor
Chandos CHSA 5074(2)
By Matthew Guerrieri
August 6th, 2009
The Faster Times
Berg-Three Pieces; Violin Concerto;etc
"The orchestration of the Piano Sonata by Theo Verbey gives us a virtually new piece. The impact of the brilliantly idiomatic scoring makes it a quite different affair from the work played on the piano, and is a real addition to the repertoire." by Michael Tanner
BBC Music Magazine
Fractal Symphony
"For a composer the challenge is to write music on a complicated foundation which is for the audience immediately understandable and a pleasure to listen to . Theo Verbey has reached new heights in succeeding in this task. This work in five movements is captivating for its full 30 minute duration."
Kees Arntzen, January 31, 2005
Berg/Verbey Sonata op. 1
"Theo Verbey's orchestration of Alban Berg's Sonato for piano Op.1 from 1984 sounded Mahleresque in its ability to carry one away. The beauty of sound is not only astonishing, but also serves to shine a beacon on Berg's romantic roots."
by Joachem Valkenburg,September 16, 2005
NRC Handelsblad
"By far the most substantial piece of the evening was "Expulsion" by the Dutch composer Theo Verbey. Like many other composers from the Netherlands, Mr. Verbey obviously appreciates the pulse and clarity of Stravinsky, in combination with the ruder dynamism of popular music as mediated by, again, American minimalists. But his music is unusually intricate and poetic. "Expulsion," for an ensemble of 24 players, is based, according to the composer, on an oscillation of two chords, but these provide just a haze over continuous contrapuntal interplay. One has the sense of numerous instrumental voices talking to one another, of music talking to itself, just being there. Not demanding attention, almost resisting it, the piece hooks one in. The Absolute's performance could have been more carefully modulated, but its liveliness was persuasive, and one was left wanting to hear more of this composer."

by Paul Griffiths, April 20, 1999
The New York Times
"Mr. Verbey's piece was distinguished by nice junctures where the instruments took over the same note from one another. Perhaps there was an allusion here to the ensemble's name, for the three string tunings the instruments have in common: G-D-A, or sol-re-la, euphoniously reassorted."

Paul Griffiths,
April 14, 1998
The New York Times

Contemporary Classical Music Composer

Theo Verbey is the Dutch composer of modern classical music who is best known for his elegant and rhythmically transparent compositions, characterized by careful and rich instrumentation. It's contemporary classical music that musicians enjoy playing again and again; it's music that makes a real connection with listeners.

Theo Verbey's sheet music also alvailable at:

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