Henk Neven studied with Maarten Koningsberger and Margreet Honig at the Conservatory of Amsterdam where he graduated cum laude in 2003. In 2002 he received a diploma cum laude from the New Opera Academy. He has taken part in masterclasses with Graham Johnson, Graham Clark, Rudolf Jansen, Hartmut Höll, Jard van Nes and Henk Smit. In April 2010 he received the coveted Dutch Music Prize, the highest cultural prize awarded in the Netherlands.
In addition to lieder and oratoria, Henk Neven has sung in many operas, performing such roles as Marco Gianni Schicchi in Dresden, Don Alfonso Cosí fan tutte, Leporello Don Giovanni, Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro, Aeneas Dido and Aeneas, Schaunard La Bohème in Dijon, Ben The Telephone and Mr Gobineau The Medium by Menotti, and Mars Vénus et Adonis by Desmarest in Nancy (in addition to a CD recording under the baton of Christophe Rousset).
Henk has worked with well-known ensembles such as the Orchestra of the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, Het Brabants Orkest, Het Orkest van de Nederlandse Bachvereniging (with whom he performed the role of Christ in the Matthäus Passion), Het Rotterdams Philharmonic Orkest, Het Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Het Radio Kamer Filharmonie, Het Vlaams Radio Orkest, L’Orchestre National de France, L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, L’Orchestre d’Opéra National de Paris, Staatskapelle Berlin, L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Le Concert Spirituel and Les Talens Lyriques. He has worked with conductors such as Edo de Waart, Jaap van Zweden, Jos van Veldhoven, Jan Willem de Vriend, Hervé Niquet, Emanuel Krivine, Kenneth Montgommery, Joel Levi, Paulo Olmi, Armin Jordan, John Nelson, Ed Spanjaard, Marc Soustrot and Christophe Rousset.
Henk Neven has performed at the Festival Oude Muziek in Utrecht and the Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam. In the ‘Zaterdagmatinee’ series at the Concertgebouw, he has sung in Barber’s Vanessa, Wellesz’s Bakchantinnen, Verdi’s Jérusalem, Schulhoff’s Flammen, and Roucher Andrea Chenier by Giordano.
During the 2004/5 season he gave recitals with cellist Jan Bastiaan Neven and pianist Jelger Blanken as part of the concert series Het Debuut (‘The Debut’). In July 2004 he made his debut in Strauss’s Capriccio at the Opéra National de Paris and in December 2004 he performed with Daniel Barenboim at the Staatsoper Berlin Unter den Linden as Morales Carmen. He has been a guest in many opera houses in Europe, including Le Duo de Dijon, Le Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, L’Opéra National de Montpellier and Het Nederlands Muziektheater. In Notre-Dame in Paris he sung the role of Joseph in Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ, conducted by John Nelson.
Recently, he has sung Pollux Castor et Pollux by Rameau, Mercutio Roméo et Juliette, Billy Budd at the Nederlandse Opera, Leporello (Opéra de Montpellier) and Don Giovanni (Opéra de Rouen) Don Giovanni, Frère Léon Saint-François d’Assise by Messiaen at The Nederlandse Opera and at the 2008 Proms in London, the title role Der Vampyr by Marschner at the Amsterdam Festival, Patrocle Iphigénie en Tauride at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Ottokar Der Freischütz at the Theater an der Wien, Bach’s Magnificat in Bergen, Œdipe at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, and Les Indes Galantes and Matthäus Passion at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Henk Neven has won the Borletti Buitoni Award and is a BBC New Generation Artist. In 2010 he recorded his first solo disc for Onyx, 'Auf Einer Burg', of songs by Schumann and Loewe, which was released in April 2011. This recording was recently nominated for a 2011 Gramophone Award.
Henk Neven is represented by Intermusica in the UK.
September 2011 / 578 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Recording: The Sea: Songs by Fauré, Schubert & Debussy / Onyx 4102
acc. Hans Eijsackers
“Rarely do you hear, even in the rarefied world of French melodie and German Lieder, a baritone who sings with such subtlety in shading of dynamic and tone as the Dutch baritone Henk Neven. Last year I welcomed his Onyx disc of Lieder by Loewe and Schumann (7/11) and this latest disc extends my admiration even further in totally exquisite singing.
The theme of this collection is the sea, though Neven extends the idea to cover such waterways as the river Danube in Schubert’s ‘Auf der Donau’. The three Debussy songs to words by Verlaine are wonderfully evocative in their response to the words describing scenes of nature, starting with ‘La me rest plus bell’ with surging piano accompaniment supporting a vocal line which ranges over the most subtle range of pianissimos, where Neven’s voice is headily beautiful. So it is with the Faure items. Neven covers these with the most seductive and responsive singing.
Fine as Neven’s French group is, the Schubert songs have an even more powerful impact.
In all the songs Hans Eijsackers is the most sensitive partner, matching Neven in responsiveness. Altogether a most memorable song record.”
Edward Greenfield, Gramophone, February 2013
“His lyrical timbre comes into its own in magnificent songs of Debussy and Fauré”.
Eddie Vetter, De Telegraaf, January 2013
“A delightful recital... Neven’s melodies are every bit as persuasive as his lieder, finding great poetry in well-chosen songs by Fauré and Debussy. The many facets of Schurbert’s fascination with the aquatic come off equally well, and throughout Eijsackers proves an insightful and gifted collaborator”.
Guy Weatherall, Classical Music Magazine, November 2012
Papageno in Mozart Die Zauberflöte
Opéra de Marseille / cond. Kenneth Montgomery / dir. Jean-Paul Scarpitta
“Henk Neven is a spirited Papageno with undeniable vocal qualities.”
“Henk Neven est un Papageno filiforme aux indéniables qualités vocales.”
Michael Egea, LaProvence.com, June 2012
Wigmore Hall Recital/ acc. Hans Eijsackers
“Neven showed that he can soften the crisp outlines of his voice that give such definition to his phrasing to produce a wonderfully honeyed legato that wrapped itself around Fauré's deceptively straightforward vocal lines…Neven delivered with just the right degree of neutrality to allow its beauty to speak for itself… he conjured a moment of tranquility to precisely match the one Fauré creates in Diane, Sélené, the third song of that cycle. An absorbing, wonderfully intelligent recital.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, March 2012
Mozart's Requiem / Royal Albert Hall / Polyphony with the City of London Sinfonia / cond. Stephen Layton
“…an eloquent quartet of soloists… mezzo Renata Pokupić and baritone Henk Neven… ensured that Mozart's Requiem made its proper mark in the second half.”
George Hall, The Guardian, August 2011
Mussorgsky (orch. Shostakovich) Songs and Dances of Death / Hodinott Hall / BBC NOW / cond. Robert Minczuk
“The portrayals up-and-coming Dutch baritone Henk Neven brought to the songs were startlingly realistic. For a singer with a warm, lyric gift, this was role-play par excellence.”
Nigel Jarrett, The South Wales Argus, June 2011
Auf Einer Burg – Songs by Loewe and Schumann (Onyx)
“He has a fine voice, somewhat rugged in texture, but with a wide range of colour and dynamics.
…his technique is in good shape. The lovely Schumann cycle is very nicely done, with careful, imaginative treatment of text…
…satisfying are the Loewe songs – mostly familiar ones – where rugged, quality of his voice contributes to the story-telling in the ballads. His ‘Hinkende Jamben’ is a touching example of his fine characterization; and longer works like ‘Tom der Reimer’, ‘Herr Oluf’, and ‘Odins Meeresritt’ have just the right amount of narrative tone.
In short, a very nice debut record and a name to look for in the future.”
Paul L Althouse, American Record Guide
, October 2011
"Here’s a name to watch. The young Dutch baritone was made a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist two years ago and richly deserves his chance to shine on his first solo album. Neven’s highly individual timbre is unlike any other lieder interpreter’s; he sings with astonishing technical finesse, verbal acuity and a youthful sense of wonder in these pieces from Schumann’s annus mirabilis of song, 1840 (the year of his long-delayed marriage to Clara). This is an entirely fresh account of a familiar cycle, Eichendorff Liederkreis
, Op 39, preceded by a group of Loewe ballads, steeped, like Schumann’s songs, in romantic nostalgia for medieval Germanic folklore. Eijsackers’s virtuoso piano-playing only enhances this remarkable young singer’s outstanding debut."
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times
, April 2011
“...An intelligent reading, a sense of dignity in the timbre, exceptional diction... Not only in [Henk Neven’s] voice but also in the interpretation there is a great sense of breadth with his flexible approach to the music. The musical conversation between Neven and his excellent accompanist gives extra sparkle. This is a CD that you will want to hear over and over again.”
Thiemo Wind, De Telegraaf, April 2011
“Young Dutch baritone Henk Neven has an exceptional voice – perfectly controlled, ideal for German Lieder. It is hardly an exaggeration to think of him on the evidence of this disc as a successor to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau… His gift of bringing out word-meaning is enhanced by the clearest possible diction and by the beautifully balanced recording. His shading of dynamics and phrasing then crowns each interpretation. It is a consistent joy to hear a Lieder singer whose tone is pure over the widest range without a trace of roughness, even under pressure, but who refuses ever to roughen the voice, slide into notes or sit under the note. Though Neven is still young, his voice is fully mature, and in such an extended song as 'Herr Oluf' he sustains tension with his consistently imaginative treatment of words. In the Ruckert setting 'Hinkende Jamben', he not only points the rhythm beautifully but also uses a lovely head-voice. In 'Der selt'ne Beter' he builds up to a most dramatic close, while another Ruckert song, 'Susses Begrabnis', inspires him to sing with a seamless legato."
"The climax of 'Waldesgesprach' on the words 'Du bist die Hexe Lorelei' comes over at full force yet without any roughness. 'Mondnacht' brings more lovely legato and fine control of crescendo, while the concluding "Fruhlingsnacht" brings an exuberant close. It is a long time since I enjoyed a disc of Lieder from a young singer quite as much as this, and I long to hear more from him.”
Edward Greenfield, Gramophone, July 2011
“[Neven] has a beautiful voice, flexible, rounded and warm, and sings, always in the middle of the note, with much intelligence and no affectation… both Neven and his excellent accompanist Hans Eijsackers manage almost to avoid sentimentality… Neven and Eijsackers give the ballads the kind of whole-hearted but entirely straightforward treatment that suits them best… all these ['Liederkreis' Op.39] are here most beautifully given their full meditative content, with nothing overdone by either performer."
Lucy Beckett, International Record Review, July 2011