Batuque; Oboe Concerto; Symphony No.2
Mélinon (oboe)/Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra/ Radio-Tele-Luxembourg
Symphony Orchestra, all directed by Marcel
Editions LGNM 541 (Portrait
Marcel Wengler (b. 1946) was artistic director of the
World Music Days in Luxembourg and the foremost musical energiser
of that small country. Its composers are well represented on CD, under the
auspices of the Luxembourg Society for Contemporary Music, and Wengler is
the expert conductor of very many of the orchestral works in the series.
This portrait CD begins with an oboe concerto with strings (1984), a fairly
conventional vehicle for the instrument which does not negate one's pastoral
expectations. Euphonious and melodic, it is pleasant but unmemorable. I felt
the same about Batuque, which was composed after a visit to Brazil.
It does far less with seven percussionists than did two heard at
Warehouse last week! (A performance of Batuque is reviewed
by Anton Rovner in his report of the
festival in Kazan.)
A good reason, however, to buy this CD is Wengler's 2nd Symphony
of 1982. This is a large single movement, nearly half an hour, which
fully justifies a title which can nowadays evoke guilt feelings 'for applying
the word 'symphony' to what is in effect only a larger work for orchestra'.
Wengler's contribution to the genre could not be describes otherwise. It
is a major statement, dark, rather expressionistic in manner, orchestrated
with consummate skill and he fills the canvas with generous ideas. The method
of composition is far from doctrinaire, & Wengler has no truck with
'systems'. I am happy to endorse his own description of it as containing
'numerous elements and motifs alternately working together and competing
- - - developing, destroying or changing each other - - discarded motifs
vanish unobtrusively to make room for 'stronger' ideas - the composition
sought and fought a way to its goal by itself'. He contends that it needs
no explanation, and I found, as he hoped, that it makes a strong, immediate
impression 'as intended and conceived'.
This authoratitive performance is also included on another CD of music by
four Luxembourg composers, Vol. 2 of the Editions LGNM Anthologie
de Musique Luxembourgoise, and that might be a better way to acquire it.
Peter Grahame Woolf