WORKS: The Book of Los; Ten Songs of Experience; To Morning; To the Evening Star
PERFORMER: Els Crommen (soprano), Marc Legros (flute), Bart Meynckens (piano); Goeyvaerts Consort/Marc Michael de Smet
CATALOGUE NO: CYP 4616
The name of Lucien Posman was, I must confess, unknown to me before I heard this disc. Posman doesn’t make it into the latest edition of Grove, but, born in 1952, he currently teaches at the Conservatory in Ghent, and is evidently a major figure in Belgian new music (now please, no jokes about five famous Belgians apart from Tintin). Evidently, too, he has a thing about William Blake, for apart from these four works, his list of compositions includes several others also inspired by Blake’s writings and paintings.
But the qualities that best typify Blake – the visionary intensity of his verbal and pictorial imagery, the compassion, the fierce rage against all kinds of injustice – are nowhere to be found in Posman’s anodyne responses to his works here. All these pieces include a chorus – unaccompanied in the Ten Songs of Experience and the short To the Evening Star and To Morning, with a solo soprano, piano and flute in The Book of Los – and the writing for them is competent, conservative in a Brittenish vein and totally unremarkable. It’s the sort of thing any half decent choirmaster in an English cathedral could have turned out for a service any time in the last 50 years and probably did. Not a note of it is memorable in any way, though no doubt it is satisfying enough to sing; certainly the Goeyvaerts Consort presents all these pieces with plenty of tonal refinement and technical polish. Andrew Clements