Orchestral works by Henderickx

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COMPOSERS: Wim Henderickx
LABELS: Royal Flemish Philharmonic
ALBUM TITLE: Henderickx
WORKS: At the Edge of the World; Oboe Concerto ‘Empty Mind I’; Groove!; Empty Mind I (oboe & electronics)
PERFORMER: Piet Van Bockstal (oboe), Pieterjan Vranckx (percussion); Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Edo de Waart, Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: Royal Flemish Philharmonic RFP 011

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Visitors to the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern in 2003 were enveloped by Anish Kapoor’s vast sculpture Marsyas. Like At the Edge of the World, the Kapoor work that gives Belgian composer Wim Henderickx’s symphony its name, Marsyas took over and redefined the space it occupied. Despite its richly variegated, constantly shifting textures, the same could be said of Henderickx’s music, for it thoroughly fills the acoustic space and has at heart an elegant, simplicity of gesture.

In addition to the symphony, this impressive two-disc set from the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under Edo de Waart and Martyn Brabbins also includes Groove!, for percussion and orchestra, and Empty Mind I, in both the oboe and electronics original and a reimagined version with orchestra. Henderickx’s deep fascination with non-Western culture is apparent, not just in raga-like melodies, African drumming or metallic percussion, but also the layering of sounds. There are juxtapositions between delicately perfumed murmurings and incessant, whirligig textures, but this does not come across as musical tourism. Groove! is absolutely gripping, percussion soloist Pieterjan Vranckx conveying poetry as well as effervescent power, while oboist Piet Van Bockstal is mesmerising in both versions of Empty Mind I, and the surround sound recording makes this a truly immersive experience.

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Christopher Dingle