Margaret Wegener was
educated at London University College
and made her career in teaching (1945
to 1980). Throughout that time, and
since, she has maintained composition
as a counterpoint to the rest of her
life or perhaps vice versa. She
has held offices of organist and choral
director at churches in Peterborough,
Canterbury, London and North Wales.
Her music is published by OUP, Da Capo,
RSCM and Musica Arioso.
There are more than
one hundred works ranging from school
music to major pieces for chorus, soloists
and full orchestra, from songs to church
music as well as instrumental music.
Her music has been much admired by John
Rutter, Vaughan Williams and Herbert
Howells. These three figures, together
also with Bax, Holst, Warlock and to
some extent Hadley and Delius, mark
out the stylistic territory encompassed
by her music.
On the clear evidence
of this disc and her previous Musica
Arioso disc of songs, Wegener has a
natural sympathy for the human voice.
She does not call on it to do anything
awkward or violent. She knows its limits.
have already commented on the fine
CD of her songs Music to My Listening.
This disc has a mix of choral with (10)
and without organ (9). In four of the
pieces there is a solo for soprano.
Seventeen of the nineteen pieces are
to religious texts some of those being
of a mystical slant. These pieces were
written between 1951 and 2003 although
most are from the period 1985-2000.
The earliest is The Christchild Carol
of 1951 to words by G K Chesterton
with A Sympathy with Sounds (a
choral cantata to words by Cowper, Oldham,
Browning and Milton) dating from 1961
and written for the Oswestry Choral
Society. The most recent, 2003, include
The Holly a setting de la Mare
and The Annunciation Carol.
The contours of her
themes and their treatment have an ease
and eloquence that places her writing
in the English pastoral mainstream.
Her concern is with beauty, melancholy,
the English countryside, devotion, the
stone church, the warm breath of the
choir rising in the cold chancel and
the mystical-historical nexus that links
our today with the Medieval yesterdays
of England's island-dwellers. While
written over a long period her music
is eloquent. There appear to have been
no Damascus Road conversions or sudden
genuflections to Ligeti or Schoenberg.
All of the music here is tender, tuneful,
direct-speaking. I would not like to
single out any track at the expense
of others except that in two cases the
music is unassuming and superficially
simple (Adoro te devote and Christ
The review copy of
this disc was sent to me by the composer.
She says that she "was lucky enough
to engage a very good choral ensemble
and excellent organist ... who made
the little two manual organ in a local
church sound like a cathedral organ.
I was very pleased with the result ...
I had never heard several of these pieces
performed before and some of it sounded
so good I couldn't believe I had written
them. Sadly my eyesight is failing now
which makes composing more difficult
but I will struggle on as I have lots
more ideas in the pipeline."
The cover of the CD
is a striking abstract oil painting
by the composer. It is entitled ‘Sound
Waves’. Its mingling of slantwise stave
lines and jewelled wave-forms like Celtic
coloured glass is striking and full
of the very rich and gentle light that
buoys up the best of her music.
It is once again a
pity that we are not told more about
the composer and her music. There are
no notes as such; simply a detailed
single-fold insert covering the contents
and personalia for this recording project.
A website would certainly help.
This is a welcome successor
to the CD of Wegener’s songs. Her choral
works sit with distinction under the
benevolent shade of that of Finzi, Howells
and Warlock. Wegener’s music smilingly
acknowledges the tradition they established.