Hoddinott Orchestral Works
The BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra has always devoted much of its time to supporting Welsh composers and musicians (if only English orchestras would do the same in such a consistent manner). Alun Hoddinott has enjoyed a long association with the orchestra throughout his time as Professor of Music at Cardiff University and as Director of the Cardiff Festival. The result has been a string of commissions and performances not only throughout the British Isles but in major musical centres abroad. When given such fine and committed performances as those on this disc by an orchestra and its Principal Conductor, both currently on sparkling form, many composers will envy Hoddinott his good fortune.
Since his First Clarinet Concerto appeared in 1949, Alun Hoddinott has been a prolific composer with a particular aptitude for orchestral scores. His language is reminiscent of Rawsthorne and Fricker and his soundworld derives from Hindemith though it is more more colourful with its extensive use of percussion. Of the four works on this disc, the earliest, Passaggio, dates from 1977 while Star Children, the most recent, was composed in 1988-9. In between come two concertante works: The Heaventree of Stars in which the soloist is the gifted Chinese violinist, Hu Kun, and Doubles for oboe, harpsichord and string orchestra with David Cowley as the very persuasive soloist. To my ears, the harpsichord here is a little distant and there is some lack of clarity in the loudest climaxes of Star Children. This may be due to Nimbus's taste for single microphone balances. None the less, I'm sure that this is a disc which will appeal to Hoddinott's many fans.'