Composition reviews

"Bird Songs by Robert Casteels blended recorded birdsongs, electronically sunthesized sounds and an ensemble dominated by woodwinds and percussion into a coherent collage. Florence Notté 's projected photography of caged birds, water reflections and bamboo forests provided further evocative stimuli"

Chang Tou Liang, Singapore


"Of particular interest is Casteels's Nachtlied. Spooky and atmospheric, the flute uses some extended techniques -flutter tongue and note bending- plus he's asked to play other instruments in the family, including the airy alto flute. The harp knocks on the wood and plays with her fingernails, all of which opens up a wider palette of colours. Casteels's particular interest is in the way music can exactly slip between cultures. We hear the Asian influence for sure, but the end result is something new. As I write this, I'm being driven through a stand of birch trees lit up by a sun hanging low on the horizon. What a perfect soundtrack. Even though the music is slow moving, there's a sense of journey"

Alison Young


"There was a programme to Robert Casteels' Nachtlied, which called upon Alvarez to perform on three instruments including the piccolo and the alto flute. The wide dynamic range expressed about a child's fear of darkness probably hinted at the psychological and the subconscious"

Chang Tou Liang, Singapore


"Robert Casteels’s Garden of Life and Death was a full scale drama in which guitars served as evocative accompanists. Antiphonal trumpets opened the ritual of blood and death, pitting man against beast which played out to its inevitable conclusion. Seldom has gracefulness and brutality in scoring and choreography been juxtaposed this eloquently on the same stage. The disturbing message was this: who was the greater victim?"

Chang Tou Liang, Singapore


“Dreamlike sounds conjured from iPads. Players conjured a fairyland melange of tingling tones. Fantastical and dreamlike, Simple-X by Robert Casteels and Seah Huan Yuh generated a warm response from an audience more accustomed to Mozart and Haydn".

Chang Tou Liang, Singapore


“Robert Casteels’ compositions are eclectic, multi-cultural and ambitious. In pieces like The Irremediable, there are moments of inspired, wondrous sound-combinations”.
Tan Shzr Ee, Singapore


“Set Sail is highly successful – I thought of it as liturgy. The overall collages worked quite integrally”.
Datuk Lim Chong Keat, Penang


“Just the right tonic for the curious and the adventurous”.
Chang Tou Liang, Singapore


“A fusion of Indian classical and Chinese music and the sounds from the gamelan emerge. It is definitely not for the faint hearted or for those classical conservatives”.
Sharmin Varghese, Kuala Lumpur


“Dans nos sociétés mondialisées et standardisées, la passion et la créativité sont des biens précieux. J'aime beaucoup le gamelan en particulier, un peu ensorcelant, completement hors du temps, exotique et planant. Les compositions de Casteels sont originales avec une démarche intellectuelle et oecuménique très intéressante”.
Nadine Vildé, France


“The music conjures up thoughts of screening pictures behind tunes – wheat blowing in the wind, streams gently gliding their way along sunlit meadows, the turquoise sea tossing itself towards the horizon”.
Rosalie Martin, Melbourne


“The rhythms and surprises, never where you expect them, took me on a great voyage! Casteels’ music truly manages to integrate the Western and Oriental spirit. Who can still make us dream nowadays?”.
Marie-France Dumolié, Paris


“With a fusion of Eastern and western music, Robert Casteels created a ‘voluminous’ sound, both audibly and visually. The alternative orchestration of the music was intense, while the hypnotic nature of the traditional Gamelan allowed us to subconsciously absorb the sounds together with the imagery. All in all, no Face was a true integration of ideas, disciplines and form, which opens the path to a new genre of integrated performances”.
Mushalwah Ridzwan, Singapore

last updated on 10 Feb 12

Conducting reviews

 “The listener finds Webern’s music deeply satisfying: the mind relaxes and turns inward. The ‘Juilliard Ensemble’ played the Concerto Op. 24 with precision and understanding under the direction of Robert Casteels.”
New York Times

“I am delighted to state, without any reservation, that the work accomplished by Robert Casteels was magnificent. I also had occasion to speak with him at length several times, and I can certify that he is a truly distinguished and skilled musician, who shows great class and professionalism.”
Charles Dutoit, Canada

“Robert Casteels has studied at Juilliard with Bernstein, but it is patently obvious that he did not learn the most precious attribute of his conducting, and that is a through-and-through musicianship, which seems to colour his whole personality. His gestures were expressive and compelling, and he reacts to what is coming with just the right degree of anticipation so that the orchestra is in no doubt at all. He and the orchestra gave a very fine performance of Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony.”
Evening Post, Melbourne

“The orchestra played outstandingly under the precise baton of Robert Casteels. The success of ‘Jakob Lenz’ is of a professional level that many official opera houses would envy.”
Le Soir, Bruxelles

“Conductor Robert Casteels leads the Belgian Radio and Television Orchestra with firm hand and good taste through Varese, Ligeti, Fontyn and Grisey. With rarely played and not immediately accessible works, he managed to hold the audience’s attention.”
De Standaard, Brussel  

“His born talent is efficient in the grand repertoire as well as in contemporary music. The musicians of the orchestra appreciate his uprightness and refinement.”
Sylvain Cambreling, Bruxelles

“The one who will have sublimated ‘Mireille’ by Gounod is Robert Casteels conducting without baton. His sharp natural instinct for opera conducting propelled both soloists and the ‘Orchestra des Pays de la Loire’ on the same wavelength.”
L’ Eclair, Nantes 

“It is a rewarding excitement to witness the students from both Flemish and French conservatories convey with such enthusiasm the deepness and beauty of ‘Rituel’ by Boulez. We admire the precision and conviction of Robert Casteels’ interpretation”.
Le Soir, Bruxelles

“Belgian-born Robert Casteels conducted magnificently Goldenthal’s Vietnam oratorio, blending the vocal and instrumental forces into a compelling unity that captured the tragic episode with dramatic intensity, shaped not by baton but with hands that cajoled and gouged out the darkness of the texts”.
The Australian, Brisbane

“Casteels clearly had the measure of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which crowned Saturday’s evening concert. He impressively coaxed responses from Western Australia Symphony Orchestra that were invariably within the line and contour of the 18th century style.” 
The Western Australian, Perth

“Conductor Robert Casteels gave us a masterly controlled as well as deep emotionally involved ‘Grabstein für Stefan’ by Kurtag”.
De Standaard, Antwerp

“Much credit for this committed performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony can be directed toward conductor Casteels…”
The Courier Mail, Brisbane

“Casteels clearly had the measure of the work, which crowned Saturday’s evening concert. Impressively coaxing responses from the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra that were invariably within the line and contour of the 18th century”.
The West Australian, Perth

“Working without a baton, Casteels shaped Martinu’s Symphony No 4’s complexities of harmony, rhythm and cross rhythms and is sharp syncopations into a vibrant, driving progression of energy charged music”.
The Courier Mail, Brisbane

The orchestra under Robert Casteels shouted and clapped on cue with surprising precision and gusto, and towering dance-hall big-band brass chords Gerard Brophy’s yo yoi pakebi, man moi yapobi to a fitting climax”.
The Courier Mail, Brisbane

“The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and conductor (Robert Casteels) sounded at ease with the enchanting impressionistic ballet by Ravel, Ma Mère L’ Oye. The work was beautifully presented with strong performances, particularly from horns and brasses”.
The Mercury, Hobart

last updated on 12 Mar 10

Composer, conductor in Singapore with specialty in fusion music

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