Zender: Lo-Shu I-III & VII

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Zender
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Lo-Shu I-III & VII
PERFORMER: musikFabrik/Hans Zender
CATALOGUE NO: 999 771-2
Hans Zender is now 65, and better known, in Britain at least, as a conductor than as a composer; only his intriguing instrumental expansion of Schubert’s Winterreise has made a real impact here. A pupil of Bernd Alois Zimmermann, his output is wide-ranging – everything from full-scale opera to solo instrumental works – and characterised by a fine-drawn and fastidious sense of structure and sonority. The four pieces here are taken from Zender’s seven-part Lo-Shu cycle, composed between 1977 and 1997 for ensembles of hugely varying size, in which a solo flute often takes a prominent role; Lo-Shu II, with the subtitle of Mondschrift, is for that instrument alone.

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As the title suggests, the impulse behind the composite work is oriental; Confucian sayings and a Chinese magic square inform the way in which the pieces are organised and structured. Zender

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is always very precise in the way he deploys his instruments spatially, and the intertwining of the lines – and the way they are answered or contradicted across the performing space – provide another layer of discourse in the arguments. Everything is beautifully crafted, though whether Zender’s creative personality is genuinely distinctive is another matter, and some may find the lack of musical drama in these pieces makes for rather bland listening. Andrew Clements