Tuesday 22 September 2015

It is hard not to be totally drawn in by the strange individual beauties of Wim Henderickx’s spellbinding sound world on a new release featuring the HERMESensemble

I was pleased to have had the opportunity to get to know the music of the Flemish composer, Wim Henderickx www.wimhenderickx.com when I reviewed a disc of his music performed by the HERMESensemble http://hermesensemble.be back in March this year.

Now the HERMESensemble have released another disc of Wim Henderickx’s music entitled Triptych which, as the title implies, brings performances of three works written for a variety of instrumental forces with electronics.

This new disc is available through Amazon www.amazon.co.uk/Henderickx-Triptych-Hermesensemble/dp/B00KJ3VWU0/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1CJP27KVEEADV7QDCETE  and http://beneluxstore.harmoniamundi.com/triptych.html this new release will be issued at the beginning of October 2015.

Nada Brahma is Sanskrit for ‘God in Sound’ and is the third part of the Tantric Cycle, a composition series that is based on Eastern philosophy and Buddhism and written between 2004 and 2010. The seven part work deals with concepts such as time, energy, sound, pulse, harmony, spirituality and silence. In this part of the series the instruments represent the earthly dimension and the electronics of the cosmos.

In seven movements it opens with Cosmic Time where deep bass drum strokes are heard as the music heaves around the depths with strange wind and electronic slides and quivering strings. Soon the soprano, Hendrickje Van Kerckhove joins, chanting the ‘abstract text’ creating the sound world of a primeval, earthy atmosphere. There are dissonant instrumental sounds and regular heavy drum beats that underline the music.

The ensemble, with percussion and soprano, rush ahead, excitedly in Cosmic Energy. Hendrickje Van Kerckhove is incredibly fluent as she shifts around rapidly, often delivering high shrieks to which she always retains a rare musicality. This is music full of energy with Henderickx’s instrumental harmonies always drawing the ear.

Sacred Noise brings hushed, ethereal instrumental sounds that move around in a haze before the soprano enters, high up and within the instrumental texture, with some quite amazing vocal sounds, blending so well. As the instrumental sounds firm up, the soprano moves to a lower range bringing a strange yet melodic line. All falls quieter with Van Kerckhove achieving some lovely textures within the subtle instrumental sonorities. Drums bring a rhythmic theme for Cosmic Pulsations which the soprano joins and around which the instruments bring a variety of layers. It has an almost tribal quality as it dances forward.

Clashes of percussion accompany the soprano as she sings some challenging passages of writing in Cosmic Chord. Some of Olivier Messiaen’s songs come to mind in the general feel of the music before Van Kerckhove rises to incredible heights at the end.

New Spirituality brings tranquil instrumental sounds with tubular bell chimes to which the soprano soon brings a mellifluous flowing vocal line, quite exquisite. There is a most wonderful central instrumental moment to which the soprano joins with a rather melancholy air. Bell chimes lead on with shifting instrumental harmonies and a soprano line until the end is reached.

Resonant instrumental, slow lines open Cosmic Silence quietly before Hendrickje Van Kerckhove enters, joining with the slow long phrases, again blending wonderfully into the instrumental and electronic texture. She brings some exquisite sounds. Subtle little dissonances appear before we are led through some fine instrumental passages with the soprano quietly vocalising over some finely written instrumental details before the hushed coda.

Hendrickje Van Kerckhove and the HERMESensemble as well as the electronics of Jorrit Tamminga deserve every praise for a phenomenally accomplished performance.

On the Road (2013) was originally written for trumpet and electronics and inspired by Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical novel of that name. It was arranged for bass flute and electronics especially for Karin De Fleyr, the performer here. The bass flute rises up over a consistent electronic sound as it weaves ahead.  De Fleyr creates some terrific flute textures and timbres with the electronic sound subtly shifting in tone and texture as the piece progress. Henderickx has written a finely developed flow of musical invention, superbly performed by Karin De Fleyr.

Atlantic Wall (2012) refers to the coastline of Western Europe and its scattering of wartime architecture that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The composer tells us that Atlantic Wall is also the waves and the sea with its rhythmical, incessant battering of the coast.

Drums thunder out to open the Prologue, slowly developing a more rhythmic line, rising and falling in dynamics as if capturing the ever changing rhythm of the sea before leading into Part I: Blue where shimmering instrumental and electronic sounds provides a layer of harmony over which mezzo-soprano Mireille Capelle gently vocalises. Subtle instrumental and electronic sounds move ahead, strange and hushed. The instrumental and electronic sounds grow through glittering, sparkling textures before mezzo Mireille Capelle appears within the texture as the flute weaves through it. There are ever shifting instrumental and electronic sounds and textures with percussion joining to add strength, tying in the opening Prologue. Shimmering, hushed instrumental and electronic sounds, with a cello sounding through, leading into the coda

The music runs straight into Part II: Red where the mezzo-soprano vocalises along with short instrumental phrases. A clarinet introduces a motif which is then picked up by the other instruments, percussion still maintaining the short phrases. The clarinet further develops the theme before it is diffused amongst the instrumental ensemble over a hushed electronic background. Mezzo Mireille Capelle enters at various points with sounds seemingly entering and falling out of focus. The instruments move forward in slow steps or phrases before the mezzo returns to vocalise. Eventually the tempo picks up rhythmically in the ensemble where a bass clarinet can be heard. Pizzicato strings join the bass clarinet’s rhythmic theme before alternating with hushed, hazy instrumental and electronic background. The Mireille Capelle rises more prominently over a delicate instrumental and percussive background, the short phrases maintained, before a string ensemble suddenly brings a dissonant overlaid passage to lead into the Epilogue where harmony is restored as a hushed instrumental passage is soon joined by the mezzo-soprano bringing a rich deeper sonority. There are some quite magical sounds before the music finds its way gently to the hushed coda where the music just disappears.

These works have a strange individual beauty. It is hard not to be totally drawn in by Henderickx’s spellbinding sound world. The HERMESensemble and their two soloists, soprano, Hendrickje Van Kerckhove and mezzo-soprano Mireille Capelle are first rate as are the electronics of Jorrit Tamminga.

They receive a first rate recording, especially so given the fine blending of instruments, electronic and soloists.  There are excellent booklet notes.

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1 comment:

  1. A bit gruesome at times but a solid read. Will Trent is a very intriguing character. Look forward to reading more about him.

    Kim of Impression Emedia