(The) Hoxton Thirteen
With a booklet cover evoking something of Punk’s heyday‚ you might expect this disc to be an ‘in your face’ affair. In fact‚ these 13 pieces‚ commissioned for the 1998 Brighton Festival and the 2000 Hoxton New Music Days‚ cover a wide stylistic range within their mainly fourtosixminute duration‚ and confirm John Woolrich’s conviction ‘that some of the most interesting young British composers are here’.
Tansy Davies’s impetuous but finely judged interplay of movement and stasis is an admirable foil to Jonathan Powell’s translucent‚ evocative ceremonial. Mary Bellamy sets a sequence of fugitive dialogues around an arabesquelike flute line; Morgan Hayes’s piece shares its feeling of weightlessness within a more linear sense of progress. Richard Baker works through intriguingly open textures to uncover a distant Mexican carol; Sam Hayden explores the polarity between individuals and the mass‚ microtones and equal temperament‚ in dense‚ ominous textures.
Alison Kay draws ethereal and increasingly animated music from the combination of discrete melodic cells‚ an evocative contrast with the appealing abstraction of Jonathan Cole’s variants on a chord. What sounds from its title like a contraption from the ‘golden age’ of Blue Peter inspires Rachel Leach to a playful fantasy‚ complemented by a caverefracted seascape from Alastair Stout’s native Shetland. Julia Simpson’s miniature might effectively find its way into a latterday ‘carnival of the animals’‚ while Oscar Bettison’s focusing on the manysided potential of one idea could itself be part of a larger process. Deborah Pritchard’s South Downs impression brings the sequence to an engaging conclusion.
With strong playing and brief but insightful notes from each of the composers‚ this is a wellplanned‚ absorbing disc representing a new generation of British composers on the threshold of stylistic maturity. In time to come‚ chances are you’ll have heard the music here first.