Review: Willem van Ekeren combines J.S. Bach´s music & Charles Bukowski´s words

Written by Wendy Wrangham


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The intimate setting works well for the heartfelt and softly delivered words and music of Willem van Ekeren – although what we hear is actually the music of J.S. Bach´s The Well-Tempered Clavier and the words of Charles Bukowski´s The Last Night of the Earth Poems.

This anthology was the last book of poems published before Bukowski´s death (1994) and their timeliness and urgency has in no way diminished. In Spark Bukowski exhorts himself (and other artists) not to accept and die, especially in the face of destructive drinking, but to keep that spark and believe in success. Jam is not only the staccato tale of the urgency and futility of a traffic jam, but also becomes a musical jam as these genres collude beautifully.

The essence of Bukowski, often known as the Poet Laureate of Skid Row, forgives minor pianist slip-ups and it is precisely this relaxed atmosphere that adds to the performance. Van Ekeren explains his choices; he introduces the perfect Bach-Bukowski combo (the oh-so-casually sublime Peace) plus the first B-B combo (You know and I know and thee know). Despite the microphone, some of the words dissipate into the night, but this, and van Ekeren´s obvious dedication to his art, only inspires further reading, and listening. The quickest hour at the festival yet…

Nightly at 9.15pm at Nosticovo Divadlo
In English

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