Hermetism Joep Beving
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- 1La fee verte04:16
- 2For Mark05:09
- 4Paris s'enflamme05:54
- 5Last Dance03:09
- 6Accent Grave06:25
- 9Little Waltz01:16
Info for Hermetism
With his fourth solo album, Joep Beving returns to his roots with a pure piano solo album. In his quest for beauty, Joep Beving explores ancient philosophy as well as paying tribute to the city of Paris.
Joep Beving, a sensation of the contemporary classical streaming world, returns to his solo piano roots with Hermetism. The Dutch composer/pianist’s fourth album for Deutsche Grammophon will be released globally on 8 April 2022. Inspired by ancient philosophy, Beving’s latest project is an album in search of universal ideas. “I hope that it will have a comforting and communal effect on listeners,” says the artist. Written during the dark days of the pandemic, in an age of fear and polarisation, Hermetism blends poignant melancholy with an offer of hope, spanning twelve new tracks recorded on Beving’s cherished Schimmel piano.
Beving has used music to explore some of life’s big philosophical questions in three hugely successful albums – Solipsism, Prehension and Henosis. After his trilogy for Deutsche Grammophon, he was left with a question: what next? The answer eluded him at first, so he turned to composing for a Dutch film and stage play. Yet ideas that had been brewing for years began to take shape. “I came back to the piano to feel at home and in tune with myself and my surroundings,” notes Beving. “I wanted to go by what felt right, which was to go back to the beginning, to solo piano songs, but using everything I had learned during the making of the trilogy.”
For his latest project, he draws on Hermetism, a spiritual philosophy which stems from ancient writings attributed to the legendary Greek author Hermes Trismegistus. At its core are seven universal laws of nature, passed down through the centuries and later compiled in The Kybalion, a text that has influenced New Age theories in more recent times. These concepts – such as the principle of cause and effect and the principle of rhythm – are all about finding a continuous balance in life and existence. “The teachings around these principles feel so truthful to me and I hope they will inspire others,” says Beving.
Much of the music on Hermetism is shaped by his readings on these ideas. The poignant “Last Dance”, for example, picks up on the principle of rhythm: what goes up must come down. “The music has a spiralling, circling nature. It’s as if something is falling and then it gets picked up again, and it could go on like that forever. That image really fits within the concept of Hermetism,” reflects Beving. “I got drawn back to this music almost like a mantra.” Another stand-out is the yearning, Middle Eastern- inspired “Dervish”. “I have a fascination for the life and works of George Gurdjieff that I believe has influenced my thinking and also my music to a certain extent. It became more prominent in the writing of this piece.” The contemplative “Nocturnal” is set to be the first single to be shared with the world.
In a rare move for Beving, he also had in mind a particular place when he was writing Hermetism. “I had a romantic idea of a past time where someone in Paris would be dedicating their life to the quest for beauty,” he says. “You walk the streets, and there’s an open window with someone playing the piano inside. I had that in mind but overshadowed by dark skies. Some terrible things have happened in Paris in the past few years. I took Paris as a metaphor for Western civilisation.” From the absinthe-inspired opening track “La fée verte” to “Paris s’enflamme”, named after a song by Ladyhawke, nods to the French capital infuse the album.
After self-releasing his debut album Solipsism in 2015, Beving became a viral streaming sensation. His music has since been streamed over half a billion times, and he has performed sold-out shows around the globe. Ultimately, he hopes that Hermetism will resonate on a deep level with his listeners. “In all the madness of recent times, this album has been the thing I’ve kept coming back to,” he explains. “In that sense Hermetism has been my own medicine for the pandemic.”
Joep Beving, piano
They say you need three things to succeed in the music business – talent, timing and luck. Plus a little something extra to get you noticed. Joep Beving has all four in abundance.
At nearly six foot ten, with his wild hair and flowing beard, the Dutch pianist resembles a friendly giant from a book of children’s fairy tales. But his playing – understated, haunting, melancholic – marks him out as the gentlest of giants, his delicate melodies soothing the soul in these troubled times.
“The world is a hectic place right now,” says Joep. “I feel a deep urge to reconnect on a basic human level with people in general. Music as our universal language has the power to unite. Regardless of our cultural differences I believe we have an innate understanding of what it means to be human. We have our goosebumps to show for it.”
Joep’s music is the antidote to that hectic world of uncertainty and fear – a soundtrack for a kinder, more hopeful future; a score for the unmade film of lives yet to come. “It’s pretty emotional stuff,” agrees Joep. “I call it ‘simple music for complex emotions’. It’s music that enhances images, music that creates a space for the audience to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.”
As for the rest of Joep Beving’s story, it’s one of good fortune and better timing.
Joep (pronounced “Yoop”) first formed a band at 14 and made his live debut in his local town’s jazz festival. He left school torn between a life in music and a career in government. When a wrist injury forced him to abandon his piano studies at the Conservatoire and focus on an Economics degree, it seemed that music’s loss would be the Civil Service’s gain.
But the draw of music was too strong. “It was always in my heart,” he says, “and it always will be.” Reaching a compromise between his two conflicting paths, he spent a decade working for a successful company matching and making music for brands. “But I always had a love-hate relationship with advertising – I was never comfortable using music to sell people stuff they don’t need”.
In his spare time he played keyboards with successful Dutch nu-jazz outfit The Scallymatic Orchestra and self-styled “electrosoulhopjazz collective” Moody Allen, and dabbled in electronica with his one-man project I Are Giant. But, by his own admission: “It was not me. I had not found my own voice”.
That began to change during a trip to Cannes for the Lions Festival – the Oscars of the advertising world – when he played one of his compositions at the grand piano at his hotel... and people started to cry. “It was the first time I had seen the emotional effect my music could have on an audience.”
Encouraged by the response, Joep organised a dinner party for close friends at his home in Amsterdam, where he played them his music on the piano left to him by his late grandmother in 2009. “It was the first time my friends had heard me play music they thought should travel outside my living room. It was the push to pursue the dream of doing a solo album with just my instrument.”
A month later a close friend died unexpectedly, and Joep composed a piece for his funeral service. “I performed it for the first time at his cremation. Afterwards people encouraged me to record it so that it would be a permanent memorial to him. He was an extraordinary person.”
Inspired by the reaction, Joep wrote more tunes and recorded them in single takes over the course of the next three months in his own kitchen, playing in the still of night while his girlfriend and two young daughters were asleep. The result was his debut album Solipsism.
Turned down by the only record label he had approached, he paid to press 1,500 vinyl copies, with artwork by Rahi Rezvani (who also made the stunning video for “The Light She Brings”). Joep staged the album launch in March 2015, in the studio of hot Amsterdam fashion designer Hans Ubbink, and performed it there for the first time.
That first vinyl pressing quickly sold out, mainly to friends, and the songs were an instant hit on Spotify, whose team in New York added one tune – “The Light She Brings” – to a popular ‘Peaceful Piano’ playlist. “People started saving the tune, so they put another one on. Then they started liking the whole of my album.” Soon Solipsism was a viral phenomenon, with another tune, “Sleeping Lotus”, now approaching 20 million streamed plays.
As a result of his huge online success, Joep was invited to perform on a prime-time Dutch TV show. The following day his album knocked One Direction off the top of the charts. “Then, a few days later, Adele made her comeback – and I was history,” he laughs. But by then he had made his mark.
He was besieged by concert promoters offering shows, including a prestigious solo recital at Amsterdam’s famous Concertgebouw and his album found its way to Berlin when another friend played it in her local bar, “at 2am with everyone smoking and drinking Moscow Mules.” By chance, one of those night owls was Deutsche Grammophon executive Christian Badzura. After making contact online, they met when Joep performed at Berlin’s Christophori Piano Salon – and ended up signing with the world’s foremost classical label.
The first fruits of the new partnership are Prehension. A natural successor to Solipsism, it carries forward the musical and philosophical themes Joep identifies in his music. “I am reacting to the absolute grotesqueness of the things that are happening around us, in which you feel so insignificant and powerless that you alienate yourself from reality and the people around you because it is so impossible to grasp. I just write what I think is beautiful, leaving out a lot of notes, telling a story through my instrument, trying to unite us with something simple, honest and beautiful.”