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British and Irish Music

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Author Topic: British and Irish Music  (Read 35098 times)
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)

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« Reply #495 on: February 19, 2021, 06:30:10 am »

Just added:

Hoddinott - Lizard, Concerto for Orchestra, Op.181 (2003)
BBC NOW/ Jac van Steen (24/1/2009, br. 18/2/2021)

This is from the second concert given at the newly-opened Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff.

"More poetry with Alun Hoddinott’s Lizard, of 2003. In 1995 Hoddinott wrote a set of four songs under the title Tymhorau (Seasons), setting texts by Gwyn Thomas, accomplished poet in both languages of Wales. The text he set for summer, was Thomas’s heat-filled poem which observes and evokes the sudden movements (and equally sudden stillnesses) of a lizard seen, in fierce sunlight, upon an ancient wall in Provence. Responding to a later commission from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (in 2003), Hoddinott produced an extended (the piece lasts almost thirty minutes) orchestral response to the same poem. It would be wrong to think of the piece as straightforwardly programmatic – apart from anything else the twenty one short lines of Thomas’s poem alone would hardly fuel a piece of such length. But Hoddinott has clearly responded both to the poem’s contrast between suddenness and stillness and to Thomas’s use of musical metaphor within his text:

            It’s a lizard
            Come out
            To warm its blood in the sun.
            Small, mottled, stock-still
            With skin like tissue paper
            Respirating energy.
            Then a pizzicato
            Across the wall, across its sunlight:
            Another stop,
            Respires again.
            Then cranks on
            As in an old film.

Hoddinott’s score alternates faster and slower sections, in a relatively loose A-B-A-B-A structure and is built around two essential motifs, a pattern of triplets which ascends to a motif of fast repeated notes and, on the other hand, a group of five rhythmically pronounced semiquavers. At times one can ‘hear’ images from Thomas’s poem very clearly: some of the orchestral textures seeming to evoke, with some vividness the sensory juxtapositions of “sunlight, a lizard, a wall / An old, old wall” and some of the changes of tempo evocative of the abruptness of the lizard’s stoppings and startings. At other times, Hoddinott seems more concerned to explore the purely musical possibilities of his material, and the references to Thomas’s poem seem to (largely) disappear. The explicitly programmatic and the more ‘abstract’ elements aren’t perhaps always fully integrated, but this is certainly a very accomplished score and van Steen and his orchestra were certainly persuasive advocates for it, responsive to Hoddinott’s vivid contrasts of colour and sonority." (Seen and Heard International, Musicweb, January 2009)
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"A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it." (Sydney Grew, 1922)

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