Wim HENDERICKX (b. 1962)
Four Pieces (1990/2007) [15:38]
2 Nocturnes (1993/1999) [9:22]
In Deep Silence III (2003/2017) [11:24]
Makyo (1990) [13:21]
Nostalgia (2010/2017) [8:17]
Roeland Henderickx (clarinet)
Valerie Debaele (flute)
Lin Chin Cheng (marimba)
Boho Strings/David Ramael
Rec. 2018, deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium
ANTARCTICA RECORDS AR011 [58:02]
A great deal Wim Henderickx’s music has been recorded, but this release mops up some works that have been overlooked until now. As such it provides us with something of an overview of his stylistic development as a composer from the 1990s and moving on towards the more exotic influences of later works. As can be seen from the date markings these often represent revisions of these earlier works, some made especially for this recording.
Four Pieces was originally written for clarinet and string quartet, but works very well with the rich orchestral sound of Boho Strings. Maarten Beirens in his booklet notes describes these as “character pieces”, with each movement covering a clearly defined musical area. These range from the energetically rhythmic to the atmospheric, the markings for each movement providing useful markers: Furioso, Misterioso, Comodo and a final cinematic Deciso respectively. Compared with Henderickx’s later music this comes across as relatively conventional though highly effective work, played with virtuoso skill by soloist Roeland Henderickx and the orchestra.
The 2 Nocturnes “share the free flow and sensibility for dwelling on sound colour with Debussy or Mahlerian ‘Nachtmusik’.” Solo flute against strings certainly enhances the Debussy feel, though the chromatic harmonic language of these pieces edges more towards a Viennese school aesthetic, introducing restless Expressionist elements without losing a restrained Impressionist atmosphere. In Deep Silence III is the last in a series of pieces “that deal with music hovering on the edge of silence.” Silence here is not so much the inky blackness that can surround the notes Morton Feldman’s later works, but more a cloud that hangs over the music, keeping its dynamics closer to silence than to sound. With admirable control, the strings flutter and ruminate, sometimes at the extremes of their range, but creating sounds at the edge of a vast abyss that will crumble at vibrations any louder than mp. This is not to say that the music lacks content – on the contrary. The central Piu lento is quite a heartfelt threnody, and there is a theme by Haydn that runs throughout the entire piece, not explicitly stated but ultimately emerging from enigmatic chords in the final Lento assai.
Makyo is a word that represents “a mysterious dream experience” to the composer. This experience contrasts from violent to surreal and serene, with the marimba a lynch-pin that can heighten the effect of both of these episodic elements in the work. Silence plays its role here as well, but more as a further element of contrast than as a defining feature. The narrative feel in Makyo gives it a dramatic, Bernard Herrmann sort of atmosphere at times, with plenty of suspense and surprise.
Nostalgia was originally written for the Middle-Eastern instruments of the Atlas Ensemble, here re-conceived and re-written for Western instruments. Microtones are used to invoke the atmosphere of the original, while the instruments used keep their own character rather than attempting to imitate their international alter-egos. The effect is one of strangeness amidst familiarity, the slow-moving nature of the piece allowing timbres and unusual intonation to take effect, while the restless movement of individual players or groups adds to ever-shifting textures.
Boho Strings can be extremely proud of this recording debut, which is superbly produced and performed by all involved. This programme provides some valuable insights into Wim Henderickx’s work, and while being enjoyable and deeply intriguing in its own right, is an important supplement to larger scale projects such as those from the HERMESensemble.