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Thomas Lauck – expansive spirit, concentrated musician Thomas Lauck celebrated his 70th birthday with four world premieres in Bad Säckingen’s Trumpet Museum and Basel’s Museum Tinguely / Comprehensive CD edition on the telos label Photo: Heiner Brackel While personally meeting composer Thomas Lauck, born in the Alsace region in Strasbourg in 1943, certainly provides information on his extraordinary musical biography, what it primarily divulges is the enormous complexity and astounding wealth of associative connotations within his artistic oeuvre. In conversation, Lauck’s eloquence is often intoxicating – always taking an alternate path, sometimes with surprising twists and turns, as he brings in the entirety of western cultural history with its significant accomplishments in terms of literature, the visual arts and music; seen superficially, this inebriating grandiloquence, added to his hearty abandon – almost excessive in its intensity as he reacts to his natural surroundings, its people and their history/histories, the art of his own culture and that of others – build a thorough contrast to his own art, his music. For its part, his music is highly reserved, gingerly allowing the sound to emerge from the extremes of caution yet devoting the greatest possible attention to every single compositional detail. It unveils its musical developments with the utmost of serenity, sometimes bearing a feeling of almost meditative imperturbability. Lauck sublimates the agitation and the dramas of external life within the smallest of gestures, distilling from them a manifestly concentrated musical discourse in which every glance counts, in which everything is brought to its essence. The challenge the music presents the interpreting musicians and the attentive listener in comprehending the music is correspondingly great. As expansive as Lauck’s spirit consistently reveals itself to be in conversation, it is only matched by the great focus in his music he places on the concentrated gestures, the small forms, the intimate spaces. Lauck almost exclusively employs small ensembles in his orchestration (such as in the limited instrumentation of his compositions for percussion), and he tailors his soundscapes for the smaller spaces of contemporary concert life. Conquering the domain of large-scale orchestral and choral music or the voluminous magnitude of musical theater was never in the foreground for him. He may be a forerunner in this tendency, also exhibited increasingly by the new generation of composers as they are “left out in the cold” by the museification and fast-food culinarization of music in the programs chosen by large music institutions to represent their artistic work as they operate under the ever-increasing financial pressures of legitimation. In the end, “small-scale success” carries no less weight than “large-scale success,” particularly since the latter is all too often bound up with concessions (deleterious to art) in terms of practical performative value and aesthetics. Just how fruitful such “small-scale” artistic work can be, what an exhilaration of musical riches were able to emerge in Lauck’s case from well beyond the broad and well-trodden path, is documented by a box set of four CDs released on the telos label (telos TLS 170), which contain outstanding performances documenting 23 of his works. This box set also represents a compilation revealing the working relationships Lauck has had over the years with a constantly growing circle of top-notch musicians, among them internationally successful musicians such as percussionist Isao Nakamura, soprano Petra Hoffmann, pianist Jürg Henneberger, bassoonist Wolfgang Rüdiger and trombonist Dirk Amrein as well as also up-and-coming talents such as cellist Isabel Gehweiler, bassist Aleksander Gabrys and cembalist Bobby Mitchell. Now, on the occasion of Lauck’s 70th birthday, two concerts were hold in Basel’s Museum Tinguely on May 28 and 29, on the program two new compositions to be heard for the first time: "...der Augenblick I, II, III" (2013), a duo for soprano, baritone saxophon and cornet/helicon with seven percussion instruments each, and "Meta-Obsession: Ein Versuch einer musikalischen Annäherung an Jean Tinguely" (2013), for two musicians with five brass instruments or four saxophones. Making their concert appearance as multi-instrumentalists are Dirk Amrein und Remo Schnyder. Dirk Amrein has also been giving a solo performance on May 26 in the Trumpet Museum in Bad Säckingen with works by Lauck and his instructor Albert Mangelsdorff. On the heels of preview performances in the gallery of artist Jürgen Brodwolf this past March, there have been public world premieres of two further works by Lauck: a solo for five brass instruments dedicated to Jürgen Brodwolf (piccolo trumpet, cornet, alto horn, trombone and helicon) entitled "Obsession" (2012), and "Pour les oiseaux" (2012) for helicon. Michael Zwenzner (English translation by Gratia Stryker-Härtel)