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CD: World Wind Music

Jean ABSIL (1893 - 1974)
Danses bulgares Op.103 (1959) [11:47]
André SOURIS (1899 - 1970)
Rengaines (1937) [7:36]
Joseph JONGEN (1873 - 1953)
Deux pièces Op.98 (1933) [15 :34]
Frederik van ROSSUM (b. 1939)
Pyrogravures Op.19bis (1969) [12:37]
Michel LYSIGHT (b. 1958)
Sextuor (1990) [19:05]
Eléonore Cavalière (piano: Lysight); Soloists of the Belgian Guides (Yves Segers (flute); Pierre Devos (oboe); Christian Debauve (clarinet); Michel Leveugle (horn); Jean-François Carlier (bassoon))
rec. Heverlee, Belgium, 13-15 December 2005 and 19-20 December 2005
WORLD WIND MUSIC WWM500.135 [67:38]
Experience Classicsonline

Jean Absil was one of the most distinguished Belgian composers of his generation with a sizeable and hugely varied output to his credit. This ranged from short didactic piano pieces to full-evening operas and included many orchestral and chamber works as well as vocal and choral music. He also composed several pieces either for brass band or wind band, some of them being arrangements of differently scored pieces. His Danses bulgares Op.103 were originally written as a piano suite but was soon arranged for wind band and for wind quintet, which is what we have here. This delightful work is one of his most readily attractive pieces - unpretentious but superbly done.

André Souris may be a somewhat lesser-known composer although he was closely associated with the Belgian Surrealists, among whom we find René Magritte. His output is quite eclectic including a lot of short pieces often characterised by irony and incongruous instrumental associations. There are also some rather more serious works, though these too are far from conventional. His extraordinarily funny Rengaines (“little tunes”) is a short suite of nine miniature character pieces such as Galop, Pastorale, March Romance, Waltz, Polka and the like, the whole with more than a mere pinch of salt or irony. This is the sort of work that would become highly popular if wind quintets were aware of its existence.

Joseph Jongen’s Deux pieces Op.98 belong to one of his most fruitful periods. The two movements of this diptych display the composer’s elegant Neo-classicism to the full. The second panel, Dances, often hints at the rustic dance tunes heard in Jongen’s music.

I have already had several opportunities to write about Frederik van Rossum whose music I still find unbelievably underrated. There is just too little of it still available on disc. It is always nice to have some piece of his available in recording, especially when that piece has long lingered in obscurity. Originally composed for clarinet quartet as Op.19, it was later arranged for wind quintet as Pyrogravures Op.19bis. This fairly early work already displays many of van Rossum’s hallmarks, be they rhythmic formulae or melodic gestures. The scoring has appropriate bite and stringency perfectly suited to the title which may roughly translate as ‘etchings’.

Michel Lysight is a Canadian-born composer who has lived in Belgium for many years. His most recent music is somewhat characterised by simplicity in formal design and by warmly melodic lines. He founded the New Consonance Ensemble which says much for his present stylistic orientation. The Sextuor for piano and wind quintet, of which this is the second recording, is no exception. Although the composer admits that American Minimalism was an influence, the music of the Sextet does not really fit that mould. Lysight’s repetitions, when they occur, display a greater variety. This is a tuneful, lyrical work of great melodic charm.

I cannot welcome too strongly this excellently played and nicely recorded overview of some of the most attractive Belgian works for wind quintet. There are still many more that should be given attention some day. In the meantime, this is a release to be enjoyed from first to last.

Hubert Culot



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