Bettina Smith / Jan Willem Nelleke

The Artist's Secret

Price: € 19.95
Format: CD
Label: Lawo Classics
UPC: 7090020182322
Catnr: LWC 1210
Release date: 12 March 2021
1 CD
✓ in stock
€ 19.95
Lawo Classics
Catalogue number
LWC 1210
Release date
12 March 2021

About the album

Mezzo-soprano Bettina Smith and pianist Jan Willem Nelleke invite us into a somewhat forgotten and seldom performed repertoire with their CD, “The Artist's Secret.” The release contains works for voice and piano, written by female composers. The title of the disc is taken from Dutch composer Henriëtte Bosmans’ work “The Artist's Secret,” with text by Olive Schreiner (1855-1920). Here the artist's secret is that he paints his works with his own blood.
This recording is the result of the performers' intensive work throughout an entire year, mapping out the repertoire of these female composers within the art song genre, and the choice of title reflects the performers' feeling of having gained insight into these well-kept, “secret” songs.

The composers on this CD – Anna Cramer, Henriëtte Bosmans, Borghild Holmsen, Cécile Chaminade, Marguerite Canal, Poldowski, Lili Boulanger, Rebecca Clarke, and Luise Greger – were all renowned and enjoyed fame in their time, either as performers, composers, or conductors. Despite this, most have been forgotten after their deaths. There is a desire to bring these composers back into the spotlight, into the concert halls, and to make this repertoire a natural programming choice, on par with music composed by their male counterparts.

Norwegian mezzo-soprano Bettina Smith is a performing artist and Professor of Classical Singing at the Faculty of Performing Arts at the University of Stavanger. She has a wide repertoire ranging from Medieval to contemporary music, and she often performs as a soloist in oratorios and cantatas, or with pianists Jan Willem Nelleke and Einar Røttingen. This is Bettina Smith's fifth CD on the LAWO Classics label and the second with Jan Willem Nelleke on that same label.

Dutch pianist Jan Willem Nelleke's exceptional qualities as a duo partner are well known and highly regarded. His playing is described as “sparkling raindrops, rich chords, and beautiful interludes” and “an ever-alert co-operation with the soloist.”

Smith and Nelleke have collaborated since 1993 and have built up a large repertoire within the art song genre. They are part of The Elly Ameling Circle.


Mezzo-soprano Bettina Smith is a performing artist and Professor of Classical Singing at the Faculty of Performing Arts University of Stavanger, Norway. She has also taught singing at the Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien (as an Artist in Residence), the Grieg Academy at the University of Bergen (main instrument), the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music (Erasmus exchange teaching), and the Norwegian Academy of Music (masterclass).

Bettina began her studies at the Bergen Conservatory of Music where she graduated with the highest degree. She then pursued her studies with Wout Oosterkamp and Elly Ameling at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Den Haag, The Netherlands, receiving a Masters Degree with distinction.

Bettina then specialized at the Internationales Opernstudio des Opernhaus Zürich, Switzerland. The two-year engagement included several roles on the Opernhaus Zürich’s main stage.

In 2001, Bettina made her debut at the Staatsoper Berlin in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and has since then been performing at leading festivals and concert halls throughout Europe. In 2013, Bettina made her operatic debut in the USA, singing the lead role of Mrs. Schrödinger, in John Bilotta’s Quantum Mechanic at the Fresh Voices festival in San Francisco.

Bettina has a wide repertoire ranging from Medieval to contemporary music, and has extensive experience as an oratorio and cantata soloist, in addition to being an active chamber musician.

As a recitalist, Bettina has performed in many European festivals, such as the Bergen International Festival, Zürcher Festspiele, the Rhijnauwen Kamermuziekfestival, Oude Muziek Festival Utrecht, Mozart Tage Luzern, Bach Tage Luzern, Brahms Festival Den Haag, Hindemith Festival Den Haag, and the Stravinsky-Festival 2000 at Het Muziekteater Amsterdam, together with het Nationale Ballet. Together with the Dutch pianist Jan Willem Nelleke, Bettina has given recitals all over Europe, including Amsterdam (het Concertgebouw), Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Reykjavik, and Baden bei Wien. They regularly give recitals in The Netherlands for the organisation Vrienden van het Lied.

Bettina has been Artist in Residence at the Laudinella Festival in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and has performed Hugo Wolf’s Spanisches Liederbuch in the prestigious Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In April 2007, Bettina and Mr. Nelleke gave a highly acclaimed recital in the Concertgebouw De Vereiniging Nijmegen, and in May 2007, Bettina gave a solo recital at the Bergen International Festival, together with the Norwegian pianist Einar Røttingen. This duo has also performed together at the Fartein Valen Festival in Haugesund, Euterpe-series, Oi-Oi Festival, and AVGARDE-series, as part of the Grieg -07 Festival.

Bettina has made radio recordings for Dutch, German, Swiss, and Norwegian broadcasting and has received several prestigious scholarships, including the Edwin Ruud Stipend and the Herbert von Karajan Music Legacy. She was a prizewinner at the Francesco Viñas competition in Barcelona 2001, and was awarded a special prize given by Dalton Baldwin for outstanding lieder singing.

Bettina has released three solo CDs with pianist Einar Røttingen, all to great acclaim, on the LAWO Classics label: the first contains songs by Gabriel Fauré, Ernest Chausson, and Camille Saint-Saëns (LWC1008), the second with works by Norwegian composers of contemporary music Fartein Valen, Ketil Hvoslef, and Jostein Stalheim (LWC1067), and the third is comprised of songs by Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy (LWC1116). Her fourth solo CD, this time with pianist Jan Willem Nelleke, containing cycles for voice and piano by Gabriel Fauré (LWC1146), was released to great acclaim in February 2018, also on the LAWO Classics label. With these four CDs, Bettina has recorded all the cycles for voice and piano by Gabriel Fauré.

Bettina Smith has worked with renowned conductors and stage directors such as Nello Santi, Franz Welser-Möst, Adam Fischer, Thierry Fischer, Petr Altrichter, Fabrizio Ventura, Phillippe Jordan, Kenneth Montgomery, Jos van Veldhoven, Erkki Korhonen, Philip Ledger, Robert Wilson, Grischa Asagarof, Claudia Blersch, Daniel Bohr, Ulrich Peter, Birgitte Fassbänder, Javier López Piñón, and Hans Niewenhuis.

Bettina has participated in masterclasses with, among others, Elly Ameling, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Dalton Baldwin, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Oren Brown, Nigel Rogers, Jill Feldman, Robert Holl, Rudolf Jansen, Helmuth Deutsch, Ernst Haefliger, Walter Berry, Jörg Demus, Hans-Peter Blochwitz, Susanna Eken, Hans Gertz, and Lorraine Nubar.

Bettina has also been active as a music educator with the educational initiative “Write a Science Opera (WASO),” and has taught workshops at the WASO sessions at the Scottish National Opera, Stord Haugesund University College, and the University of Stavanger.

Dutch pianist Jan Willem Nelleke’s exceptional qualities as a duo partner have been widely recognised; he has established duo partnerships with mezzo-soprano Bettina Smith, flautista Philippa Davies, cellist Karine Georgian, and baritone Frans Huijts and performs frequently with them throughout Europe. His playing has been described as ‘sparkling raindrops, rich chords and beautiful interludes’ and an ‘ever alert co-operation with the soloist’.

Himself a noted composer of songs and chamber music, he has also produced a large number of arrangements that have regularly found their way into the repertoire. Jan Willem studied with Else Krijgsman at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and with Thom Bollen in Utrecht.

Recordings include chamber music by Poulenc, works for cello and piano by Schumann, Schubert’s Winterreise, as well as the Gershwin Piano Concerto following a critically lauded performance at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

In addition to his performance schedule, Jan Willem Nelleke is in great demand as a coach. He teaches at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and at the Franz Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien, Austria.


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