early works were written between 1950
and 1960 but the Harp Concerto and the
Second Piano Concerto were revised in
1970 and 1969 respectively. Interestingly
enough, they are presented in chronological
order, which allows one to trace Hoddinott’s
progress over this important decade
of his long and prolific composing career.
Indeed, the lovely and playful Clarinet
Concerto actually the first
work that earned Hoddinott some recognition,
is still somewhat indebted to, Alan
Rawsthorne; none the worse for that.
The Harp Concerto, composed
in 1957 and revised in 1970, clearly
displays considerable stylistic changes.
Themes are now generally more angular
and the scoring rather more strongly
differentiated. The percussion plays
an important part in the orchestral
fabric. This will soon be regarded as
a typical Hoddinott fingerprint, as
is the composer’s liking for palindrome,
both on the small-scale as well as on
the more epic scale. The slow movement,
too, already hints at Hoddinott’s many
night music movements. Finally, the
music displays Hoddinott’s remarkable
orchestral mastery, for the composer
successfully manages to create a perfectly
satisfactory balance between the somewhat
tenuous voice of the harp and the rather
more massive orchestral forces. The
harp is never obscured by the orchestra;
no mean feat.
The Piano Concerto
No.1, of which this is the first
recording ever, is another example of
Hoddinott’s growing assurance. The language
is clearly much in tune with what is
to be heard in the Harp Concerto. This
is mature Hoddinott in many respects,
although the composer would still refine
and enlarge his palette in the years
to come. However, the scoring for orchestral
winds and percussion allows for considerably
virile and muscular writing, not unlike
that to be found in Hoddinott’s later
music. A most welcome addition to this
composer’s discography, especially in
such a fine performance. One cannot
but wonder why this splendid work is
not heard more often.
To a certain extent,
the Piano Concerto No.2
synthesises Hoddinott’s progress at
this particular stage of his career.
The composer’s voice is now fully distinctive;
and it is clear that he has now firmly
laid the foundation for his individual
musical world. All his fingerprints
are there: melodic, rhythmic and harmonic.
The composer is now able to use his
acquired personal technique with consummate
assurance and complete freedom.
I have long loved these
works - and these recordings, eagerly
collected during the LP era. They have
been superbly transferred and sound
as fresh as when originally released.
The more recent and hitherto unreleased
recording of the First Piano Concerto
is simply splendid and most welcome.
I now hope that Lyrita will not be too
long in releasing a re-issue of more
Hoddinott recordings, that were originally
released as "fill-ups" to
some of the larger works. In the process,
I hope that they will not forget a work
that I consider to be one of Hoddinott’s
most impressive orchestral scores, Variants.
This release as well
SRCD.331 - Symphonies Nos. 2, 3
and 5 - offers the best possible introduction
to Hoddinott’s rich and fascinating
sound-world. Not to be missed.
see also reviews
Barnett and Brian