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Flairck Variaties Op Een Dame album cover
3.93 | 54 ratings | 7 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aoife (6:28)
2. Voorspel in Sofia (7:06)
3. April 3rd (5:39)
4. Oneven Wals (7:17)
5. Variaties op een Dame (21:25)
6. Dubbelspel (1:22)

Total Time: 49:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Erik Visser / 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, sitar, mandolin, mandola
- Peter Weekers / flutes (transverse, bamboo, piccolo), panpipes
- Judy Schomper / violin, viola
- Hans Visser / acoustic bass, Classical & 12-string guitars

- Fred Krens / vibes, marimba, glockenspiel, gong & cymbals (5)

Releases information

Title translates as "Variations on a Lady"

Artwork: Poen De Wijs

LP Polydor ‎- 2925 072 (1978, Netherlands)

CD Polydor ‎- 825 071-2 (1985, Europe)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FLAIRCK Variaties Op Een Dame ratings distribution

(54 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

FLAIRCK Variaties Op Een Dame reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Beyond the vaguely erotic and promising title, Flairck's debut album came out in 78, when acoustic folk groups were blossoming in Continental Europe, even if the folk music movement was getting a little passÚ by then. Whether in Germany with Emme Myldenberger, in France with La Bamboche or Tarentule or Spain's Basque Province with Izukaitz, Itoiz and Errobi, Holland came out with its own Flairck.. Lead by the Visser brothers, both guitarists, but Erik is also the main writer, the group also has Judy Schomper on violin and second writer Peter Weekers on wind instruments (flute principally), a line-up that to my knowledge would remain constant in their first four albums.

Whether Flairck is really progressive as in "prog" is rather difficult to say, because in their debut, there isn't the slightest rock element in their music. Indeed the group is more of a folk group that symphonizes its music, of a classical quartet (but fronted by two guitars) that composed some traditional folk tunes. But in either case, there are some unaccredited borrowings from classical composers, something that seems to be a Dutch specialty, as most group. The A-side is made of four instrumental "songs, starting on the Aiofe, a slow developer that sticks to acoustic guitar arpeggios with a pan flute. Quite a contrast on the much faster-paced Prelude In Sofia, where the violin and bass ensure a quick evolution to second, than third gear, with some excellent developments, turning into birdsongs. Next up is April Third and its sitar, a quiet but ultimately boring piece, even if the flute joins up. The Weekers-penned Odd Waltz closes the side in an all-too-predictable waltzes and jigs and reels and other stuff and tricks and treats?.. Next, please!!!

And indeed the second side is held mostly by the "epic" 21 mins+ title track, a slow starter on guitar and flute, before the violin enters around the third minute, before borrowed movements and reels enters the dance. A little later, a lengthy window is given to Schomper and her violin, where she chooses boldly to go Paganini, and on her return, the group finally shifts into second gear and then almost right away into third, but it's to late: when their better moments sound like the Quebecois band Maneige, in their first two albums. Indeed the whole second part of the title track finally holds its own, even if Weekers almost gets lost in his meandering flute solo. The album closes on the short Double, which is a guitar duo between the brothers, a last tidbit before saying goodbye.

If you're a fan of acoustic instrumental classical-derived folk music, Flairck's debut should be right up your alley, the only frustration being that you couldn't try different positions with their cute violinist. All macho considerations aside, the playing is very good, but rarely brilliant, and all too rare are the occasions to get excited about the music or the virtuosity of the individual members. Variations is a debut album that could be described as soporific if it wasn't for the sheer beauty of some of their passages. Let's call it sleep-inducing, without forgetting the unfulfilled promises of its title.

Review by Bonnek
4 stars Flairck are hardly known outside their home country Holland. They might have reached a few Belgian ears as well but they certainly haven't dawned on the masses of PA yet. A shame really given how much potential their music might have amongst prog fans, especially amongst those to whom a mix of acoustic instrumentation and symphonic composition sounds alluring.

Flairck are a virtuoso acoustic instrumental quartet where each member plays a whole array of different mutations of his basic instrument. Erik Visser plays 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars. He also handles most of the song writing together with flutist Peter Weekers. Brother Hans Visser does acoustic bass guitars and the violin on this debut is caressed by Judy Schomper.

The music takes inspiration from both classical and flok/world sources, and due to the influences of Celtic music, there's some similarity to early Oldfield, be it in an entirely acoustic version, which is a plus as far as I'm concerned. Further similarities can be made with the softer side of Belgian chamber rock, with a band like Aranis for example. But it can't be compared to the more avant-garde and harsher sounds of Univers Zero. Flairck keeps things very melodic and harmonious, delicate and gentle. Which doesn't mean they don't play at raging speeds!

Their debut album is an exceptional career start, there's so much inspiration in the songwriting and arrangements that each of these tunes would become classic live staples for years to come. The execution and recording of the material is generally a bit better on the live albums but that might just be because I've only heard this album on my second-hand vinyl. I'm sure it sparkles and shines in the recently released boxset!

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Acoustic ensemble from Ulvenhout, Holland, performing around guitarist Erik Vesser.The first rehearsals of the band took part in 1976 with Peter Weekers on wind instruments, Erik's brother Hans on bass and female violin player Judy Schomper.Two years of preparation followed before the band signs a deal with Polydor and releases the debut ''Variaties op een Dame'' in 1978.

Flairck were like no other band regarding Holland, they were a band with an all acoustic but very rich sound, somewhat divided between Classical Chamber Music and Folk.The first side of the original LP contains rather laid-back musicianship with many folk references, the guitar playing of Erik Visser remains in the background with no particular surprises and the majority of the instrumental arrangements is led by the talent of Weekers and its dominant work on flutes, pipes and whistles.On ''Oneven wals'' though things become more serious.Plenty of great interplays and beautiful harmonies on an uptempo acoustic piece full of lovely soundscapes and balanced work on bass, flutes, violins and acoustic guitars, sounds a delicate piece stepping both into symphonic and folk territories.Of course the album is mostly known for its almost sidelong eponymous suite, clocking at 21 min. long, and offering all the basic tunes met in the first side.From melancholic passages with crying violins and depressive flutes to energetic Chamber Music with Classical references and some nice, fiery battles between the musicians.A great track, however the middle-based violin solo prevents from being rather great.

The album received some high praise back in the days, winning several awards as a very innovative release.And actually it is, with its deep energy hidden behind the acoustic instrumentation making it almost a must-have for fans of challenging acoustic experiences.But even a more rock-friendly prog fan will met some desired interplays in here.Recommended.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Well, I have never heard of this dutch quartet until my good friend Erik Neuteboom told me about them.Variates Op Een Dame is their first album, released in 1978. It really surprised me a lot, since the music here is totally acoustic and does not even have drums. So it is not rock. In fact, it is hard to label their sound because Flairck is simply too different, even if their influences are easy to tell: folk, classical, jazz, eastern and world music in general, among others. All wrapped up by their sheer musicianship and excellent songwriting abilities. The instrumentation is quite simple: acoustic guitars, violin, flutes and acoustic bass guitar. Some odd instruments like sitar and pan flute are also included, although the booklet does not say exactly who played what.

Although there is no rock, the songs are quite energetic most of the time, showing off both their great technic and fine craftsmanship in penning good tunes. Sometimes they take their virtuosity a little too far, as most 70┬┤s acts did, but that┬┤s forgivable. After all, it was hip then and those moments don┬┤t last too long. And their sound is definitely progressive: just listen to the many variations and mood swings of the title track with its 21:25 running time. Not too many groups can hold anyone┬┤s attention for that long in a purely instrumental basis, with such few instruments and no electronic effects at all. Besides the tunes are quite complex and surely takes time to fully enjoy the music here, but you┬┤ll be reward if you do listen carefully. There are no lows and all the tracks are very strong. I really liked the even flow of the songs, making it a very nice listen all the way through. All is helped by the brilliant recording, that balanced the instruments well and clear. The cover is also great.

Conclusion: quite a debut! it┬┤s hard to believe they started in a year when prog music in general were in such low moment. If you like something original and acoustic, or good music in general, this is a CD you can not miss. I┬┤m looking forward to hear their next works. Recommended!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The brilliant and startling debut from this collective of young Dutch virtuosi inspired by classical and folk traditions far and wide.

1. "Aoife" (6:28) opens with a soft, laid back, beautiful weave between two string instruments (the Visser brothers' guitars). After a few rounds, in the third minute, the viola and panpipes join in. There is a slight shift in melody with a key shift at the 3:53 mark, the instrumental composition staying the same but everyone moving up the scales a bit to higher pitches. At 5:05 we drop back into the mid-range--though, again, there is a slight shift of melody and pacing. Beautiful song. What an opener! (13.5/15)

2. "Voorspel in Sofia" (7:06) opens with first one guitar, and then another, picking and strumming at a fast speed (they're in a hurry!) before panpipes enter and present the fast melody. At 1:15 the violin enters and there is a shift in structure and form though the pacing is still very fast and relentless. At 2:20 another shift in rhythmic structure ushers in a section in which panpipes and violin trade soli for a minute until bird-chirping from each instrument distracts us from a major slowdown from the guitars beneath. This new slow section doesn't change much in terms of structure or melody as violin and panpipes continue alternating their exposition and play with the pre-existing melody. At 5:45 Erik switches over to his mandola as Hans takes up the acoustic bass as the music speeds back up to the original pacing and as the panpipes and violin continue vying for the lead. (13.5/15)

3. "April 3rd" (5:39) sitar and mandola open this with a slow, spacious structure in which to present a variation on the main melodic theme of the Adagio from Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Before the end of the first minute the sitar's lead switches the melody to something else--original or not, perhaps Celtic (more in the vein of Alan Stivell's work), it is familiar. In the fourth minute the sitar leaves and a flute takes its place. The sitar returns and kind of weaves its lower-range melody into the mix though the flute retains the lead. Nice song. (9/10)

4. "Oneven Wals (7:17) guitar and violin open this song with soft, delicate note interplay before being joined by flute (multiple?) and violin (multiple?). The weave is very soothing and flowing until the end of the third minute when a bridge signals the tempo change that happens at the 3:00 mark. A quickened pace yet retaining the smooth, aquatic flow of the music opens The fast, almost frenzied pace of the two lead instruments--the flute and violin--in the seventh minute is This may be the song that displays these musicians' virtuosity the best. I would also not be surprised to learn that this song was developed and recorded later than the previous three as it's engineering and compositional sophistication seems greater, deeper. (14/15)

5. "Variaties op een Dame (21:25) opening with four instrumentalists entering into a relaxed conversation using a melody familiar to me from Celtic music (or Pucchini opera). Eventually, in the third minute, yielding the center of attention to allow each of the others to have turns "speaking." The pastoral pacing is like a relaxed stroll on the grounds of a country estate or a pleasant tea on the veranda under the afternoon June sun. At 4:40 the music switches gears though the "Ode to Joy"-like melodic theme dominates the violin's play as the piccolo plays his own separate melody and guitar and double bass accompany. In the seventh minute a kind of Vivaldi lull falls upon the quintet as the violin falls into the telling of a particularly heart-wrenching story (using a melodic theme that is familiar to me from Alan Stivell's "Ys" from Renaissance of the Celtic Harp) This long unaccompanied violin solo again moves into Vivaldi territory with several familiar melodic themes being employed--including some more of Rodrigo. This continues to the 10:40 mark when everybody jumps back into a frenzy of activity, fast but not unnerving or chaotic, rather contrived work activity. At 12:30 we have evolved into a dance-like jig with multiple sections repeating over and over with collective weaves and solo sections, but all flowing seemlessly at the same pace. At 13:20 this stops and shifts into a more Iberian theme and style with some nice dual-instrument (piccolo and violin) presentation of the melody while the acoustic guitars strum along in a Spanish fashion. Another abrupt end at 15:14 opens the door for a more minimalists section in which a single bass guitar arpeggio and transverse flute plays a soft, distant, multi-octave melody. Guitars join in softly and the flute solo moves front and center to become more jazz-like until everything scales back again in the eighteenth minute to allow bass arpeggio be the lone supporter for a very active, breathy, vocal-accompanied/augmented flute solo. A very cool section! At the 19:00 mark everything cuts out once more, leaving space in which a viola enters to lay down a slow, plaintive melody. Violin is eventually joined by as the music starts to slowly construct a kind of Romani song, with instruments and pacing coming together slowly and then picking up faster and faster until the panpipes, violin and guitars are brought to a crescendo to close. Wow! What a trip! What masterful performances of a truly amazing composition! I can find neither fault or detriment to either the music or the level of engagement proffered by this song. This is about as close to perfection as music can get. (39/40)

6. "Dubbelspel (1:22) a fast run through a kind of lullaby or nursery song using a folk-bluegrass style. (4.25/5)

Total Time: 49:17

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive folk music and a shining example of what virtuosic instrumentalists can create with traditional instruments and melodies.

Latest members reviews

4 stars A relaxing listen on the sofa. I have yet to subscribe to this Flairck idea of only acoustic instruments. But this is a platinum selling album and the Dutch people cannot be that wrong ? Well, they are not wrong because Flairck's debut album is actually a deserving platinum seller. Which ... (read more)

Report this review (#272475) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Year 1978 , one of the most productive years of Progressive music in Europe . Specially in Italy , Netherlands , France , Germany ,Greece & Belgium . During my trips to these countries , i've discovered bands like Sensation's Fix , Machiavel , Parzival , Can , New Trolls , P ... (read more)

Report this review (#179995) | Posted by trackstoni | Tuesday, August 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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