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Alun Hoddinott Symphonies on Lyrita ??

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Author Topic: Alun Hoddinott Symphonies on Lyrita ??  (Read 1209 times)
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« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2017, 04:42:24 pm »

I think "difficult" is the wrong word,really. I don't actually find Hoddinott "difficult". However,while some of it is lyrical,even richly so,in a dark,celtic kind of way;it also has that abrasiveness,which Dundonnell refers to. I can write,draw,read and carry out various dull,repetitive household tasks  Grin while listening to Daniel Jones,Mathias and allot of Grace Williams,and even Fricker! Hoddinott,however,is a composer I really have to put everything down and listen to. Not such a bad thing,and that's the way I should be listening,anyway! you might say?! Unfortunately,I have other things I need to do in the evening which mean I can't always listen that way! Also,I'm not sure his line of "abrasive modernism",as Dundonnell refers to it (if that's the right term?) really appeals to me. That said,there is undoubtedly allot of gorgeous orchestration there. Indeed,it is probably that mix of "angular modernism","abrasiveness" (or whatever you should call it?) colour and rich lyricism which makes him so,undoubtedly,intriguing and why people like me will keep on trying! Daniel Jones,is,admittedly,more my cup of tea though!
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2017, 05:52:48 pm »

It is frequently very tricky (see how I have avoided the word "difficult" Grin) to describe the general soundworld of a composer's music. This is particularly the case for someone like me who is not equipped to provide descriptions or analysis based on any kind of musical training or technical knowledge. Words like "romantic", "neo-romantic", are used by some to describe the music of certain composers. Others do so in relation to the composers use of tonality or "extended tonality" or the use of serial techniques. So...a British composer like Benjamin Frankel, for example, used "serial techniques" but those are not really noticeable to me when I listen to his music. Humphrey Searle (a pupil after all of Anton Webern) was a "serialist" but always himself asserted that he wrote music which was "romantic". Sometimes people relate a composer's music to that written by somebody else. So, Fricker is sometimes compared-or at least his earlier music is- to Bartok.

I am (after many, many decades of listening to music) reasonably familiar with my own tastes. Reading the posts of other members of a forum gives one some idea of where their tastes may lie (but one can be surprised Grin). If I use the word "difficult" it is usually in relation to my own perceptions of the music. That may not mean that I do not like it. It probably does mean-as has just be said in relation to Hoddinott's music-that it will require me (and others?) to listen with "concentration". But of course one should listen to all (or most?) music with concentration in order to appreciate it properly or more fully.

As a British music "fan" I set off from the initial premise that I "want to like" the music I am listening to. Sometimes however I find it "taxing" and it does not "get through" to me. Thus, for example, although I adore Searle's first two symphonies I cannot come to like his last three.

The music of Daniel Jones and Grace Williams was written by composers of an earlier generation to Hoddinott or Mathias. That in itself is largely (though not entirely) meaningless. Elizabeth Lutyens was born in 1906 but her music is quite different to theirs! Hoddinott and Mathias were born within five years of each other but I certainly find Mathias "easier on the ear".

I am only too well aware that anything I write can end up as cliche-ridden and therefore less than helpful but one has to start somewhere Grin
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« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2017, 05:33:27 pm »

Very well written, Colin, echoing many of my own thoughts. I go by my emotional response to whatever I am listening to and that has always been enough for me. Having deeper academic understanding of a piece of music obviously doesn't really hurt anything, but in spite of all the "expert" analyses, I still get to make up my own mind about what I enjoy listening to, and do so without shame.
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« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2018, 05:11:39 pm »

No.8 for brass and percussion, op. 142 (1989)...broadcast in 1992 with the National Youth Brass Band of Wales conducted either by Edward Gregson or Ray Farr (there seems
            a dispute amongst the sources about who the conductor was for the premiere)

Apologies for the thread necromancy in my first post, but I can add some vaguely pertinent details. I can confirm beyond doubt that it was Edward Gregson, founding musical director of the NYBBW who conducted this performance to mark the ensemble's 10th anniversary in 1992. I know this because I was in the band!

It's a fascinating work, and I was lucky enough to have access to the score when I included a brief analysis of it in my undergraduate dissertation. My god it was hard, though - AH certainly didn't "write down to a standard", given that it was an (albeit rather fine) amateur youth band. I've spoken to Edward Gregson about it since and he remembers having sleepless nights over whether we were ever going to master it.

Hoddinott has been rather disgracefully treated by posterity, in my view, and his work is well overdue for extensive critical re-evaluation and rediscovery. Were I in the market for a PhD thesis topic... Certainly his brass band music (almost all written for the NYBBW) has been shamefully neglected by the top few Welsh bands who would have both the skills and the platform to perform it. I'm interested if anyone knows if the Symphony No. 8 was ever published - it was in MS at the premiere and I'm not aware of a subsequent performance, so I suspect not given the limited market for it.
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