Dutch singer Anneke Van Giersbergen (Ex-The Gathering, solo, Devin Townsend Project) and Icelandic classical quartet Árstíðir first met back in 2013, when they were both support acts for Pain of Salvation’s European acoustic tour. At those shows Árstíðir joined Anneke on stage to provide backing music for moving renditions of Lorrainville’s ‘Four Years’ and Anathema’s ‘Everwake’. Three years later, they’ve teamed up again to release a collaborative album Veloren Verleden, playing re-imagined versions of famous classical/traditional songs. It’s an impressive release, especially considering Anneke sings in English, Icelandic, German, Dutch and French across the album, and how well her beautiful voice works in harmony with Árstíðir’s minimalist compositions.
The first track Bist Du bei Mir, a piece by composer Gottfried Stölzel is a beautiful start to the album, Árstíðir weaving a lovely calm atmosphere with slow soft piano notes, subtle strings and lightly plucked guitar as a backdrop to Anneke’s voice. She sings the German well, her soft voice adapting well to the harsher language, showing some of the higher register of her voice in a lovely melodious style. Anneke and Árstíðir compliment each other well, one never overshadowing the other, and the more pronounced instrumental section with the stirring strings in the middle of the track is beautiful. Solveig’s Song is sung in English, a slightly more dramatic piece with dark sounding strings and vocalisations in a mystical sounding atmospheric piece. Het Dorp gives a rare glimpse of Anneke signing in her native Dutch on a guitar led piece, accentuating the lyrics beautifully in the middle pitch region of her voice with that trademark trill that’s always recognisable when she sings.
Irving Berlin’s Russian Lullaby is one of the album’s loveliest pieces, the stirring strings and guitar arpeggios intertwine beautifully to create a gorgeous background for Anneke, who sings in a floaty, dreamy manner throughout the song in one of the best performances. Árstíðir lend vocals on the Icelandic pieces Þér ég unni and Heyr Himna Smiðu, lending their soft Nordic voices in an acapella for Anneke to sing beautifully over in yet another language. On Londonderry Air (Danny Boy) Anneke uses the lower register of her voice to great effect, while on Purcell’s When I am Laid in Earth (which she previously sung years ago on Dutch TV prompting her to start this classical project), she uses some of the highest vocals we’ve heard from so far in her career in a rendition of the classic aria, singing with the power anyone who’s heard her before know’s she’s capable of. The final track, Fauré’s Pavane sees both Anneke and Árstíðir sing in French in the longest track on the album and a piece that’s just as expressive instrumentally as vocally, though Árstíðir’s smooth male vocals here are as lovely as those wistful piano melodies.
The album’s relatively short at just ten songs and clocking in at forty minutes, but less is more here – there’s no filler here on the album, not a superfluous note played by Árstíðir or a line sung by Anneke that’s anything less than beautiful, and they compliment each other well in a superb collaboration. Anneke may be most well known for her rock and metal exploits with The Gathering, Devin Townsend and The Gentle Storm, but by showcasing another facet to her incredible voice, Veloren Verleden is yet another gem in Anneke’s eclectic career, and it makes you wonder if there’s anything that this woman can’t sing!
Árstíðir and Anneke are currently touring together, playing theatre shows around The Netherlands:
01 Mar 2016 – Den Bosch, Verkadefabriek (try-out)
02 Mar 2016 – Almelo, Theater Hof 88 (try-out)
03 Mar 2016 – Naaldwijk, WestlandTheater De Naald
04 Mar 2016 – Oosterhout, Theater de Bussel
06 Mar 2016 – Zwolle, Schouwburg Odeon (matinee)
08 Mar 2016 – Wageningen, Theater Junushoff
11 Mar 2016 – Tilburg, Theaters Tilburg
12 Mar 2016 – Uden, Markant Uden
13 Mar 2016 – Groningen, De Oosterpoort
16 Mar 2016 – Hoofddorp, De Meerse
17 Mar 2016 – Zoetermeer, Stadstheater Zoetermeer
20 Mar 2016 – Leeuwarden, Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie
21 Mar 2016 – Rotterdam, Oude Luxor Theater
22 Mar 2016 – Waalwijk, Theater De Leest
23 Mar 2016 – Delft, Theater de Veste
25 Mar 2016 – Haarlem, Philharmonie Haarlem
27 Mar 2016 – Sneek, Theater Sneek – Noorderkerkzaal (matinee)
29 Mar 2016 – Amsterdam, De Kleine Komedie