Het Nederlands Kamerorkest (Netherlands Chamber Orchestra) was founded in 1955 and gave its first concert that year during the Holland Festival. Szymon Goldberg – the legendary violinist, conductor and pedagogue – was artistic director of the ensemble for the first 22 years. Goldberg then appointed David Zinman as second conductor (alongside himself) and, jointly, they raised the level of the orchestra to equal that of any top international chamber ensemble. They were succeeded in 1979 by Antoni Ros Marbà, who led the orchestra until 1986. From 1986 to 2002,Hartmut Haenchen was chief conductor of the ensemble, with Philippe Entremont as permanent guest conductor.
Yakov Kreizberg was Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and its sister orchestra, theNetherlands Philharmonic (NedPhO) between 2003 and 2011, during which time he recorded regularly for Pentatone.
In September 2004, top violinist Gordan Nikolić was appointed Artistic Director and Leader of the orchestra.
The Nederlands Kamerorkest gives about 25 concerts per year in the major Dutch concert halls, including the Concertgebouw. Each season, the orchestra also accompanies a number of productions of the Nederlandse Opera at the Muziektheater in Amsterdam. Apart from the manyRossini and Mozart operas, the orchestra has performed numerous contemporary operas to great critical acclaim. For instance, the world-première of Alexander Knaifel’sAlice in September 2001 and the production ofTea by the Chinese/American composer Tan Dun in January 2003 were major successes. In March 2005, the orchestra accompaniedBellini’s opera Norma, and performances of Rossini’s Il barbiere de Siviglia took place the following year, as well as the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy at the Amsterdam Muziektheater.
The Nederlands Kamerorkest has toured extensively to countries such as the United States, Middle and South America, Canada, Australia, Japan, China and almost all European countries. It has performed at many festivals, including the Wiener Festwochen, Prager Frühling, Edinburgh Festival, Granada Festival and La Folle Journée in Nantes, France.
Since its foundation, the Nederlands Kamerorkest has worked with prominent guest conductors such as Rudolf Barshai, Carlo Maria Giulini, Erich Leinsdorf, Yehudi Menuhin,Hans Vonk and Edo de Waart. The numerous world-famous soloists who have performed with the orchestra include Elly Ameling, Maurice André, Martha Argerich,Vladimir Ashkenazy, Alfred Brendel, Gidon Kremer, Radu Lupu, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Isabelle van Keulen, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Marie-Claire Alain, Han de Vries and Mstislav Rostropovich. During a successful three-year project, Christian Zacharias performed Mozart’s complete piano concertos.
The Nederlands Kamerorkest has an extensive discography. Some recordings dating from the LP era – which include a Mozart Piano Concerto featuring Martha Argerich, and Szymon Goldberg’s Bach programmes – have since been re-released for their historic value. The orchestra has released many impressive recordings with the record labelPentatone.
Photo (left and banner image) courtesy of Ronald Knapp