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These, many of which featured among several cutting-edge Hoddinott recordings (including significant piano works: he composed some half-dozen sonatas) on particularly the Nimbus and Lyrita labels, bear testimony to a painstaking composer of real stature, whose scores easily rank among the finest produced by any British composer of the period.
Hoddinott produced a dozen or more concertante works, including concertos for viola (concertino), harp, horn, oboe, cello (Nocturnes & Cadenzas and Noctis Equi), three or more piano concertos and a concerto for piano, wind and percussion. His relatively compact violin concerto Heaventree of Stars, another work tellingly recorded on Nimbus, is further testimony to the overall excellence of his output.
It was Hoddinott's skill and rugged craftsmanship, as well as his forceful inspiration, terseness and musical tenacity, that put him in the front line and ensured he easily held his own alongside major contemporaries such as Thea Musgrave and the younger generation of Bennett, Birtwistle, Davies, Maw and Hugh Wood.
Profoundly perceptive and capable of going straight to the nub of others' work -- a gift that made him a wonderful composition teacher, quick to spot, gentle in correction -- and as much a master at the organisation of sound as he was of his administrative and academic responsibilities, Hoddinott was strikingly well-versed in 20th century music: he drew on a range of sources, including Viennese modernism, Hindemith and Bartók, to forge a tough musical style, by turns edgy and astringent -- he was a close friend and admirer of Alan Rawsthorne -- and darkly intense and romantic. Richly chromatic, with a strong sense of line and rhythmic drive, his music always impresses by being both structurally and melodically to the point.
Copyright © 15 April 2008
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK