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Willem Tanke is a prominent interpreter of organ works by J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, Max Reger and Olivier Messiaen: 

He looks at his own improvisations and compositions from the perspective of the hydraulis or water organ, the first keyboard instrument invented in Egypt in the 3rd century BC and widely spread over North Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle East during the Roman Empire. 


Willem Tanke applies the souplesse and vitality of his own music to the notion of dance in Bach's music. He documents this process with educational videos.

Overwhelming experience

(review on Olivier Messiaen and the Cave of Forgotten Sounds by Henk ten Holt, Ugenda, July 6th, 2017)


"Whoever attends this concert will be left flabbergasted, exalted (in the sense of feeling elevated), moved, and in any case unsettled, and afterward, remaining silent for a long time. The music has an indescribable force which overwhelms the listener. The word "violence" could be appropriate, but without negative connotations; the music is not only heavy but also lovely, consoling, and even touching. One concert attendee said, "Resisting is impossible". Another, while leaving fifteen minutes afterward, "I am still not back on Earth". The musical dialogue between Messiaen and Tanke is a radical mental and spiritual experience which, at the same time, touches you very physically. Descriptive words fail and it may sound very strange, but, while listening, I felt enclosed by a very tight time travel capsule, which forced my body to stretch and become rigid. I cast my eyes higher and higher, from the floor to the pews and the walls and, finally I gazed through the bowed windows of the church directly into, what appeared at that moment to be, uniform, grey eternity."


Ralph Blakely on Super Audio CD Meditations for a lent in American Record Guide:


"I reviewed two fantasies by Willem Tanke (b1959) in the March/April issue this year. I found Tanke one of the most fascinating composers I had encountered. Now, this work confirms and augments  that judgement...  The work is almost Beethovenian in its originality. However, ingenuity does not make art; it is the remarkable beauty of this work that does.  This recording will be a the top of my critic’s-choice list for the year. I believe it may be the most important recording I’ve reviewed for ARG. Tanke wrote that he intended to explore the direction music is headed in the 21st Century. If that be so, I am excited about where it is going."


Blair Anderson on CD Imaginary Day by Blair Anderson for All Music Guide:


"...there is a peculiar unity in the whole work that takes its character from the blending of serious and comic as well as traditional and avant-garde elements. If the moods range from medieval solemnity to modern quirkiness and veer suddenly from the quantly evocative to outright violence, the whole set nonetheless feels all of a piece in its personal qualities: Tanke's music feels true to his varied interests, and his witty performances speak directly of his inquiring mind and imaginative music-making. "