Imprint takes Baroque articulation, stylistic conventions and virtuosity and develops them into full-blown modern Concerto Grosso. Monothematic material, maniacally repeated, becomes a virtuoso gesture. This material, introduced by the solo violin, spreads like wildfire through the rest of the orchestra, flung back and forth between instrumental groups.

During the piece the solo violinist is required to place lead ‘fingers’ on the keys of a portative organ, producing, voice by voice, a faint chord audible only through the gaps in the virtuosic orchestral tutti. This chord is not only an imprint of the significant pitches in the piece, but it is also a theatrical gesture: these lead fingers embody the hand of a long-deceased Baroque composer.

The piece should preferably be performed on period instruments with 415 Hz Baroque tuning. It may,

Imprint fingers“Fingers” used in Imprint

however, be performed on modern instruments provided they are used in Baroque style in terms of clarity of tone and are played without vibrato.

press quotes

Baroque gestures, energy and virtuosity into a modern musical language

“By far the most convincing work on the program was ‘Imprint’ by Michel van der Aa. The Dutchman was interested in more than sound colors, and transferred Baroque articulation, Baroque gestures, energy and virtuosity into a modern musical language.”
— Der Zürcher Oberländer, 29 August 2005

An obliquely humorous game

“In Imprint Michel van der Aa plays an obliquely humorous game with the sound material – in a way one seldom hears with Dutch composers. Refreshing, like a Baroque blueprint developed ever further, ultimately suggesting a parody of the idea of the basso continuo by laying metal rods on certain keys of the organ.”
— Tages-Anzeiger, 29 August 2005

Most gripping piece

“By far the most gripping piece was Imprint by the young Dutch sensation Michel van der Aa — not least because it was the only work to confront directly the irony of a 21st-century composer meddling in 18th-century sonorities. Van der Aa’s response was twofold. He gave the work the frenetically patterned feel of a Vivaldi concerto, with the leader (the excellent Gottfried von der Goltz) gradually infecting the whole band with manic figuration. But as the piece progressed another process was at work. More and more lead weights were placed on the keys of a chamber organ, building up a permanently sounded chord that glimmered through the strings. For Van der Aa, this represented “the hand of a long-deceased Baroque composer”: a neat metaphor and a clever musical device.”
— The Times, 22 November 2005

Imprint NYT

“The Dutch composer Michel van der Aa’s “Imprint” comes the closest of the five works to suggesting a model in earlier music, if only in the sense that its demented explosions of string arpeggios find a faint pre-echo in the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra’s bracing recordings of the likes of Biber, Zelenka and Locatelli. But in Mr. van der Aa’s piece the listener’s attention is repeatedly drawn through the gaps in the bristling texture to an almost inaudible chord. That chord shifts as the violin soloist adds and removes pieces of lead from the keys of a chamber organ.”
— New York Times, 25 March 2007

Fiery and brilliant

“The shortest work of the evening, Michel van der Aa’s fiery and brilliant Imprint, is surely the piece with the greatest chance of making its way into the repertoire. The Dutch composer dares as no other to not only exploit the languishing, sinewy and swelling tones of a Baroque string orchestra, but also to utilize the jagged contours and vitality of a robust, abrasive forte. Imprint is simply a pithy new interpretation of the standard Concerto Grosso, vigorously buffeted against dynamically craggy themes and woven into a net that sustains the piece.”
— Süddeutsche Zeitung, 7 September 2005

A rhythmically taut, effective demonstration of collective virtuosity

— Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 29 August 2005


for Baroque orchestra

2 oboes
1 harpsichord / Positive organ
Strings (4,4,3,2,1)

Period instruments (415 Hz tuning)
or modern instruments played in a Baroque way.


Duration 14'
First performance 27 August 2005, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra Gottfried von der Goltz, violin
Commissioned by Siemens Arts Foundation
Published by Boosey & Hawkes



Freiburg Baroque Orchestra,
Gottfried von der Goltz – violin


ARTE Metropolis documentary

Portrait documentary by Viktor Stauder. Produced by ARTE.
8:55 min. | German

Imprint - interview

Michel van der Aa talks about ‘Imprint’ and working with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.
2:42 min. | English


Last performance:

  • 19 April 2017
    The Tempest
    Polish National Ballet. Choreography by Krzysztof Pastor
    Dance Open Festival, St Petersburg, Russia


About Baroque cover Imprint
and other works for the Siemens Arts Program “About Baroque”

Freiburger Barockorchester, Gottfried von der Goltz

Harmonia Mundi, HMC 905187.88