Massive 13-CD box-set of Mertens' album-releases on Crepuscule.For 35 years, Wim Mertens has been one of Flanders’ most famous composers. Yet after all that time, he still seems to be an outsider: not classical enough for the classical music world; too classical for the world of pop. He did have some crossover successes in the 1980s, in particular with Struggle for Pleasure, the album by his ensemble Soft Verdict. Years later, the title track was used as a jingle by mobile phone operator Proximus, becoming one of the most widely known tunes in the country.
This Belgian composer is not well known among U.S. audiences, although he has made several highly regarded appearances at the New Music America festivals. In Spain, however, where he was the subject of a major television special, he is a new-music celebrity. Mertens's style employs mesmerizing minimalist techniques with a sense of the romantic that appeals to both serious music aficionados and more mainstream listeners. The keyboardist uses a certain amount of electronics along with some acoustic instruments like violin, flute, and saxophone.
The Belgian composer Wim Mertens (born 1953) is an international recording and performing artist who has given several concerts, as a soloist and with his ensemble all over Europe, in North and Central America, Japan and in Russia. Wim Mertens plays the piano and the classical guitar. He sings in a characteristically high-pitched voice, using a carefully crafted personal language. Since 1980 he has composed many pieces in different formats, from short, accessible songs or Lieder to magnanimous and complex three and four parts cycles, and for different settings: from piano solo to chamber music ensembles and symphonic orchestra. He often writes for unusual instrumentations: twelve piccolos, ten basstrombones, thirteen clarinets. Since his recording debut in 1980, titled For amusement only, an electronic composition for pinball machines, Wim Mertens has released more than 50 albums.
One can imagine how a composer like Wim Mertens could appear on the Windham Hill label and – to some people's surprise – in the late '80s he appeared twice. Whisper Me is a compilation of tracks from his other Crepuscle releases, a mini-overview of his style, and a way of hearing some tracks from the then-impossible-to-find Maximizing the Audience. Mertens has more depth to him than other pianists on the label, and a darkness creeps in at the edges of these works.