René Wohlhauser

In Statu Mutandi

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This diverse assemblage of the works of Swiss composer René Wolhauser is, for many west of the Atlantic, an introduction to his work. It was put together by the composer himself from 1978 to 1993. In Wolhauser we get a composer who has absorbed the Second Viennese School and has not so much rejected it as moved far beyond its reach. This is a composer whose work is deeply involved with ongoing world concerns, which may date it at some time, but don't count on it. Wolhauser has much more in common with Olivier Messiaen, whose approach to composing for small groups of instruments, sonatas, and even orchestras was methodical and thematic according to timbral figures and tonal possibilities -- and this goes for rhythm too. Of the 11 selections here there are two flute duets, numerous settings for various clarinets both solo and in ensemble, two pieces for organ (where the Messiaen connection holds like glue), a string quartet, a piano solo, and the title work for orchestra. Much of Wohlhauser's music is quiet and purposeful, but there are many places -- such as in his duet for flute and bass clarinet or his solo for B-flat clarinet or his organ sonatas -- when thunder is as important as restraint and textured timbres. For fans of the New York School and of Messiaen, as well as Lukas Foss, this will be a welcome and perhaps even revelatory introduction to the work of a composer (born in 1954) who is shaking the rafters of musical preconception with extraordinary skill, vision, and elegance.

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