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Alistair HINTON (b.1950)
String Quintet (1969-1977)
Sarah Leonard (soprano)
Jagdish Mistry (violin)
Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin)
Levine Andrade (viola)
Michael Stirling ('cello)
Corrado Canonici (double bass)
rec 1999 UK
ALTARUS AIR-CD-9066(3) [3CDs: 41.23+62.45+65.14]


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Alistair Hinton's 2¾ hour String Quintet was written during the second half of the last century. It is written in an idiom no more forbidding than that of Shostakovich's Eighth Quartet and the denser lyricism of Bernard van Dieren and Kaikhosru Sorabji although there are some unapologetically Schoenbergian passages in the finale. Hinton was, after all, a pupil of Humphrey Searle although this is by no stretch of the imagination a doctrinaire work.

The Quintet is remarkable, at one fairly mundane level, for the presence of the double bass when other composers might have been tempted to add a second viola or a second cello to the orthodox string quartet 'unit'. It also strikes me as enigmatic that the title is String Quintet when the singer (a sixth artist) plays such a crucial role in the last movement and that movement lasts far longer than all the other movements put together.

The Quintet is in five movements accommodated here across three CDs. The score runs to 269 pages. The first three movements are on the first disc. The minuscule fourth movement (at only 3.38) is on CD2 together with the start of the fifth movement which is completed on the third disc. The first and fifth movements lack a tempo marking. The first four movements are for instruments only and play for about three quarters of an hour. They are followed by a massive two hour fifth movement in which the string players are joined by soprano Sarah Leonard.

The fifth movement amounts to a song cycle. It follows the anthologising tradition of Bliss (Morning Heroes, Pastoral, Beatitudes), Britten (War Requiem, Spring Symphony) and Mathias (This Worlde's Joie). Hinton sets words by: Arnold Schoenberg, John Keats, Kahlil Gibran, Delius, Milton, Norman Douglas, Sorabji, Tagore, Berlioz, St Thayumanavar and Browning. There are also brief extracts from The Upanishads. The sung words are mostly in English.

Bandings across the three discs are minimal and individual track timings are disdained by Altarus. There is no information about the total playing time of each disc. The message is to ignore such quotidian irrelevances and focus on the music. Who could argue with that. It is only compulsives like yours truly that choose to break the spell by including these details in reviews.

The first movement (23.38) has no tempo marking but seems to be a moderato. Impressions flood in: amongst the first being the spider web diaphanous fantasy of Warlock's string part-writing for The Curlew. Perhaps late Beethoven and certainly Zemlinsky can be heard as well. The first movement, from 23.07, proceeds amid high harmonics in a slowly chanting descent into silence. The second movement (7.14) is a macabre allegro scherzando alive with chittering and a wispy col legno clatter. It has a slight flavour of grand guignol suggestive of Shostakovich. The third movement takes the form of a Theme and variations - adagio. It is of exactly ten minutes duration. This is music of tender reflection - slowly undulating amid dreamlike sentiments like a modern echo of the Schubert String Quintet. You may also think of the quartets of George Rochberg and Robert Simpson; even the pasticcio piano solos of Valentin Silvestrov. The music rises to a pitch of intensity at 7.09 rather like a collision of worlds between Howells and Szymanowski. The end of the movement is in keeping with the heartfelt descent into silence that memorably rounds out the first movement. The final purely instrumental movement is a scherzo - allegro con brio. It is extremely brief at 3.38. The style harks back to Warlock's Curlew, to the hothouse density of Van Dieren's still unrecorded Chinese Symphony, to Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony and to late Goossens.

The fifth and final movement is bigger than the other four movements put together (58.30 of it being accommodated on disc 2). The music can be tense, trembling, intense and sinister (6.30) as well as passionate. It includes some of the most dissonant music experienced across the five movements. Other impressions, before the voice enters at 15.30, include Shostakovich's sardonic serenades and invocations and parallel moods in Frank Bridge's third and fourth string quartets.

At 27.58 bell sounds are 'screeched' down by the violins in a strikingly memorable moment preluding the Keats sonnet written in disgust at vulgar superstition. This theme is dominant across the texts. There is a Zarathustran conviction of confidence in self to the point where the praise of the many is condemnation to those of true judgement and where isolation is extolled. This is so much more than an elevation of the old saying about the 'dogs of village bark but the caravan passes by.' The sentiment is one familiar enough from Sorabji's own writings and from those of Delius. It may perhaps also be echoed by those who are driven to create in the face of an impassive, uninterested, repudiatory or aggressive public. Such a 'reception' to creativity was encountered by Pettersson, Vermeulen and Havergal Brian.

There is a desperate shivering intensity about much of the string writing. Leonard speaks the words of Delius at 39.05. The exact moment (47.18) at which the textual emphasis switches from an attack on populism to the extolling of the mystical qualities and exaltation attained by and through music is pivotal and is soon buoyed up by some sublimely beautiful singing. We encounter this further at 49.00. This is the same direction taken by Savitri in her hymn of love (Holst), by Szymanowski in The Song of the Night, in Holst's Ode to a Grecian Urn (part of the Choral Symphony) and in Patrick Hadley's The Trees So High. The music is also redolent with echoes of parts of the Delius Requiem, the alpine and fulsomely floral fields of Delius's A Village Romeo and Juliet and the song of the unborn children in the garden after the torture and execution of Rafi and Pervaneh in Delius's music for Flecker's Hassan. The exhausted bliss of the husks of mortality and the star-scattered souls of Part III of Bantock's Omar Khayyam are also a spiritual triangulation point.

The final movement continues on CD 3 but for a long time without contributions from Ms Leonard. The music sometimes takes on a fugal character. The manner is suggestive of Schoenberg with the music slowly wheeling and spiralling towards what becomes an iterated pavane. This evolving and slowly cycling dance becomes Bach-like being decidedly tonal but antique in feel.

A chugging double bass ushers the pavane out and we return to the Schoenbergian fugal manner. A mephisto quality develops (22.31) with a lacerating violin line which prompts thoughts of Paganini, Schnittke and late Shostakovich.

Sarah Leonard resumes singing at 25.01 amid more atonal writing. This melts away at 30.09 emerging into a Straussian skein of lyrical quietude with the writing prompting thoughts of Strauss's Four Last Songs. There is then an hypnotically steady ascent towards high singing violins (47.11 and 64.00) towards the words 'beauty supreme' rounding out this invocation with high violin harmonics and a tender pianissimo murmur.

The recorded sound is good except for the fallible balance at the start of the Keats sonnet where Leonard's voice takes an unequal and obscured place amid the five instruments. At that point you can hardly hear what she is singing.

In the booklet there are thirteen pages of introductory notes by the composer who appears in two photographs but is inadequately profiled in a single page. It was a missed opportunity not to provide a full list of his works with dates and details (these are now linked to this review). The texts as sung (and sometimes spoken) by Sarah Leonard are printed across ten pages. There are full page photographs and profiles of all the artists involved.

The three CDs are housed in the usual double width coffer.

This ensemble is an ad hoc group whose playing individually and in communion evinces great concentration. I speculate, but I would imagine that the composer must have been very pleased with the results.

The present review must be regarded as a provisional report. Ultimately I hope I might return to report further with more enduring impressions. For now let me sum up: This is a major work that impresses by its obdurate refusal to embrace the obvious and the threadbare and by its sincerity, its subtlety and its lyricism.
Rob Barnett


 
AVAILABILITY

Altarus Records
Easton Dene
Bailbrook Lane
BATH BA1 7AA
United Kingdom
Phone
01225 852323
Fax
01225 852523 +44 1225 852323
E-Mail:
100775.2716@compuserve.com
or
100775,2716@compuserve.com


THE MUSIC AND LITERATURE OF ALISTAIR HINTON

CONTENTS
GENERAL INFORMATION 02
CATALOGUE OF MUSIC AND LITERATURE 03
DISCOGRAPHY 06

GENERAL INFORMATION

Alistair Hinton was born in Scotland. Hearing Chopin’s 4th Ballade on the radio at the age of 11 evoked the altogether understandable wish to become a composer; ("I just wanted to know how music was made - and to make some of my own"). His first Sonata for piano was written immediately and displays some facility in its assimilation of fleetingly encountered influences. He continued his musical studies simply by studying music, passionately ("one learns composition by composing, as one learns wine-tasting by tasting wine"). His early work attracted the interest of Benjamin Britten with whose advice and help he attended Royal College of Music London for lessons with Humphrey Searle and Stephen Savage. His music dates from 1962 but he destroyed much of his pre-1985 output.

A significant encouragement of his compositional development was provided by the music, literature and friendship of Parsi composer Sorabji; these played an important rôle in exposing him to crucial formative influences, including Szymanowski, Busoni, van Dieren, Medtner, Godowsky and Stevenson which, together with a deepening admiration for Chopin, were to enhance his love of the piano and preoccupation with the challenge of writing for it.

Having persuaded Sorabji in 1976 to relax the long-standing embargo on public performance of his music, he took an active part in fostering international interest in it. This led to his founding The Sorabji Music Archive, of which he is curator. Based in Bath, England, the organisation was renamed The Sorabji Archive in 1993; it is a research source for performers and scholars, maintains a continuously expanding collection of literature by and about the composer, assists and oversees the compilation of new authentic editions and issues copies of his scores and writings to the public.

He has published articles and reviews in journals including Tempo, The Organ, International Piano Quarterly, The Godowsky Society Newsletter and The Ronald Stevenson Society Newsletter, acted as executive producer of various recordings and contributed to radio and television productions in several countries including USA, Scotland, Netherlands and England. The author of two chapters of the book Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, ed. Paul Rapoport (Scolar Press, UK, 1992, repr. 1994), he also contributed substantial valuable research material to it; he has since assisted another of its contributors, Marc-André Roberge, towards a substantial biographical study of Sorabji due for publication in 2002.

His extant works include a String Quintet, a song-cycle Wings of Death (Tagore), for soprano and orchestra, a Violin Concerto and numerous piano works. His Pansophiæ for John Ogdon, for organ, commissioned in 1990 in memory of the great pianist with whom he collaborated during preparation of his legendary recording of Sorabji’s Opus Clavicembalisticum, was first heard in 1991 in a recital devised and given in Ogdon’s honour by Kevin Bowyer. In 1993 he received four commissions, of which the last, Variations for Piano and Orchestra, was completed in February 1996. More recent works include Szymanowski-Etiud, for wind ensemble (1996), Sinfonietta (1997) and a cadenza for Medtner’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (1998) commissioned by Carlo Grante for its Italian première. In 1999 he concentrated principally on chamber music. His Six Songs, Op. 40 were commissioned by the Planet Tree Festival 2000 for the soprano Sarah Leonard. He is currently engaged on a commission for a series of piano pieces entitled Sieben Charakterstücke and a wind ensemble work, Concerto for 22 Instruments.

His piano work Variations and Fugue on a theme of Grieg and his organ works have been released on the prestigious Altarus label. Altarus has also recorded his most ambitious composition to date, the String Quintet, due for release in 2002; they also plan to record other works including his euphonium and piano pieces Conte Fantastique (1999) and Passeggiata Straussiana (1999-2000) and Piano Quintet (1980-81).

Artists who have to date performed, broadcast and recorded his work include pianists Donna Amato, Ian Brown, Carlo Grante, Yonty Solomon, Ronald Stevenson and Nicola Ventrella, sopranos Sarah Leonard and Jane Manning and organist Kevin Bowyer. The participating artists in the String Quintet recording are Jagdish Mistry and Marcus Barcham Stevens (violins), Levine Andrade (viola), Michael Stirling (’cello) and Corrado Canonici (double bass), with Sarah Leonard (soprano).

All enquiries concerning ALISTAIR HINTON are welcome.

© 08 October 2002

CATALOGUE OF MUSIC AND LITERATURE

All items unless otherwise indicated are available from:-

the sorabji archive

EASTON DENE, BAILBROOK LANE, BATH, BA1 7AA, ENGLAND

Tel:

From UK

Ex UK

01225 852323

+44 1225 852323

 

Fax:

From UK

Ex UK

01225 852523

+44 1225 852523

E-mail

100775.2716@compuserve.com

Website

www.music.mcgill.ca/~schulman/sorabji.html

Supply format and item description

  • All items are issued as duplex (double-sided) photocopies, enlarged where practicable to aid legibility and ring-bound in hard card covers unless otherwise specified or requested; these include new editions, computer-set scores and autograph manuscripts.

Editions

  • New editions other than those described as "Publication" are either printed or in the editor’s hand.

Copy quality

  • Master copies of all items supplied in photocopy form have been prepared by The Sorabji Archive from original autograph manuscripts and new editions; some early manuscripts were in poor condition at the time these were made.
  • All copies supplied are prepared in-house to order. Copy quality is the highest achievable from the originals using our analogue monochrome photocopier which, whilst it has served us well over the years, we hope in the future to replace with an equivalent digital copier (such machines do not, however, come cheap, especially in UK).

A guide to the catalogue

  • The Date column gives the year of completion of each work or the years in which it was composed or revised.
  • The No. column shows the composer’s work numberings.
  • The Dedicatee column shows the names of dedicatees where applicable and known.
  • Durations are given in minutes; those of works yet to be performed are allotted estimates in the form "c.[xxx’]".
  • The Pages column shows the number of pages in each item and indicates how their prices are calculated.
  • The Format column gives paper size / orientation: P = Portrait and L = Landscape.
  • The Edition column gives descriptions of the publication format of each item. All items without such a description are copies of the composer’s autograph manuscripts. The designation "Ms." likewise refers to Hinton’s autograph manuscripts but appears only in instances where other edition formats of the same work are also available.
  • The Price column shows the amount in £ sterling (GBP) payable for each item including packing and ordinary mailing within UK only; prices remain valid until further notice. Surcharges for guaranteed, express or other special mailing / shipping services and for all orders to be shipped outside UK are quoted on request. In the interests of our valued customers we no longer ship items by sea mail due to adverse past experience; it may in some cases appear somewhat more economical, but we have found it also to be very unreliable. Most of our prices have remained unchanged since the Archive’s foundation, despite increases in costs of materials and shipping.

Payment

Payments are accepted in £ sterling (GBP) only in favour of The Sorabji Archive by any of the following means:

PAYMENT TYPE

PAYMENT CONDITIONS

PAYMENT METHOD

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By mail to the above address

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Must be negotiable on a UK bank

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By mail to the above address

Direct credit to our bank

Net of ALL bank / agent charges

(our bank makes no charge)

Bank

Coutts & Co.

A/c

The Sorabji Archive

Sort Code

18-00-02

A/c No.

92313310

Crossed Postal Order

By mail to the above address

International Money Order

At a Post Office or by mail to the above address

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Subject to status: please quote:

  • Name as on card
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This catalogue is regularly updated to incorporate new and newly completed editions, recently discovered works (if any) and other new information. Please refer to copyright date on pages 2 & 6 when comparing earlier issues.

MUSICAL WORKS BY ALISTAIR HINTON

Medium/Title

Date

No.

Dedicatee(s)

Duration

Pages

Format

Edition

Price

                 

SOLO INSTRUMENT(S) AND ORCHESTRA

                 

Violin Concerto No. 1

1979

19

Jane Manning

17

31

A3P

Full Score

£10

           

A4P

Miniature Score

£6

                 

Variations for Piano and Orchestra

1995-96

31

Donna Amato

23

75

A2P

Full Score

£55

           

A3P

Miniature Score

£20

                 
                 

VOICE(S) AND ORCHESTRA

                 

"Wings of Death" (soprano solo) (Tagore)

1970-71

9

 

35

51

A3P

Full Score

£14

                 
           

A4P

Miniature Score

£8

ORCHESTRA

                 

Sinfonietta

1997

34

 

9

51

A2P

Full Score

£42

           

A3P

Miniature Score

£15

                 

ORGAN

                 

Pansophiæ for John Ogdon

1990

22

John Ogdon/Kevin Bowyer

44

44

A3L

 

£12

                 

Amatory Offertory

1990

23

Chris Rice/Donna Amato

10

6

A3L

 

£5

                 

Offrande d’Amour

2002

44

Chris Rice/Mercedes Jeudy

6

11

A3P

 

£6

                 
                 

VOICE & PIANO

                 

Five Songs of Tagore (soprano solo)

1970

7

 

14

22

A3P

 

£9

                 

In Solitude - In Plenitude (bass solo)

1996

33

 

5

6

A3P

 

£5

                 

Six Songs (soprano solo)

2000

40

Sarah Leonard

17

36

A3P

 

£10

                 
                 

CHAMBER ENSEMBLE/SOLO INSTRUMENT

                 

Piano Trio No. 1

1966

2

 

7

12

A3P

 

£6

                 

Three Pieces, for flute

1966

3

 

8

15

A3P

 

£7

                 

Sonatina, for oboe

1969

4

 

5

9

A4P

Edition (Rumson)

£6

             

Ms.

£5

                 

Piano Trio No. 2

1970

6

Geoffrey Osborn

12

19

A3P

Score

£8

             

Parts

N/A

                 

Soliloquy, for ’cello

1971

10

 

4

3

A4P

 

£5

                 

Improvisation, for violin

1977

12

Ishani Bhoola

9

4

A3P

 

£5

                 

String Quintet (2 violins/viola/’cello/double bass

+ soprano solo [last movement])

1969-77

13

Sarah Leonard

170

269

A3P

A3P

Full score

Parts

£65

£59

         

59

A3P

Piano reduction

of vocal extracts

£15

                 

Three Page Essay before a Sonata, for oboe and piano

1993

27

Donna Amato/Chris Rice

1

3

A3P

Score

£5

             

Parts

N/A

                 

Szymanowski-Etiud, for 18 wind instruments

1992/96

32

Karol Szymanowski

35

122

A3P

Score

£37

                 

Conte Fantastique, for euphonium and piano

1999

36

Morten Wensberg/

Donna Amato

8

16

A3P

Score

Part

£8

£5

                 

Sonata, for ’cello and piano

1999

37

Rohan de Saram

20

39

A3P

Score

£11

             

Part

£5

                 

String Quartet No. 1

1999

38

Chris Rice

16

38

A3P

Score

£11

             

Parts

£19

                 

Passeggiata Straussiana, for euphonium and piano

1999-00

39

Morten Wensberg/

Donna Amato

7

16

A3P

Score

Part

£8

£5

                 

Concerto for 22 instruments (Movt. i only)

2000-

41

 

Movts. ii & iii IN PROGRESS

       

11

56

A3P

Score

£16

                 

Piano Quintet* (Movt. i only)

1980-?

   

20*

81

A3L

Score

£25

                 

Duo, for violin and ’cello

2001

42

Jagdish Mistry

23

47

A3P

Score

£14

                 

Après une lecture de Liszt, for viola and double bass

2001

43

Levine Andrade/

18

27

A3P

Score

£9

     

Corrado Canonici

         
                 
                 

Medium/Title

Date

No.

Dedicatee(s)

Duration

Pages

Format

Edition

Price

                 

PIANO

                 

Piano Sonata No. 1 (part lost)

1962

1

 

11

10

A3P

 

£5

                 

Piano Sonata No. 2

1969

5

 

70

70

A3P

 

£20

                 

Capriccio

1970

8

 

3

3

A3P

 

£5

                 

Morceau d’Anniversaire pour Kaikhosru Sorabji

1974

11

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

2

3

A3P

 

£5

                 

"Cabaraphrase" (concert paraphrase on themes from

the musical play/film "Cabaret" [John Kander])

1978

14

Neil Rhoden

13

28

A3P

 

£9

                 

Piano Sonata No. 3

1978

15

Yonty Solomon

16

26

A3P

 

£9

                 

Variations and Fugue on a theme of Grieg

("Åse’s Death" from "Peer Gynt")

1970-78

16

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

59

67

A3P

Edition (Rice)

Ms.

£20

£17

                 

Little Suite (Six Easy Pieces)

1978

17

Paula Dene

9

12

A3P

 

£6

                 

Piano Sonata No. 4 ("Ballade")

1978

18

Anna Panas

20

28

A3P

 

£9

                 

A Birthday Paraphrase for Ronald Stevenson

(on 2nd movement of Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 [Schumann])

1980

20

Ronald Stevenson

4

8

A3P

 

£5

                 

Scottish Ballad

1981

21

Ronald Stevenson

7

11

A3P

 

£6

                 

Piccola Fantasiettina Canonica

(transcription of "What Wealth of Rapture", Op. 34, No. 12 [Rakhmaninov])

1991

24

Ronald Stevenson

7

22

A3P

 

£9

                 

Fantasiettina Crittogrammatica

(No. 1 from "A New Hexameron: A Centenary Handsel for Hugh MacDiarmid")

1992

25

Ronald Stevenson

3

6

A3P

 

£5

                 

Étude en forme de Chopin

1992

26

Marc-André Hamelin

4

16

A3P

 

£7

                 

Sequentia Claviensis

1993-94

28

Carlo Grante/

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

72

177

A3L

 

£45

                 

Vocalise-Reminiscenza

1994

29

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji/

Donna Amato/

Sergey Rakhmaninov

7

12

A3L

 

£6

                 

Piano Sonata No. 5

1994-95

30

Donna Amato

54

133

A3L

 

£38

                 

Sieben Charakterstücke (nos. 1-5 only):

1998-

35

(various)

6. & 7. IN PROGRESS

1. "Doktor Busoni

2. "?Naissance/Espérance/Découvrance?"

3. "Malvern Air"

4. "A Capriccio"

5. "Icarus Powellii"

"

   

32

66

A3P

 

£17

                 

Cadenza to Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 60 [Medtner]

1998

35a

Carlo Grante

4

9

A3P

 

£6

                 
                 

ARRANGEMENTS BY OTHERS OF WORKS BY ALISTAIR HINTON

                 

Three Page Essay before a Sonata, for oboe and piano

(transcription de concert pour pianoforte solo par H. Polkinhorn)

1993

27

Donna Amato/Chris Rice

1

3

A3P

 

£5

 

 

LITERARY WORKS BY ALISTAIR HINTON

These comprise various essays and reviews, published and unpublished, supplied unbound in double-sided A4 portrait format from £0.25 per side.

 

NOTES

* Not yet completed; duration is for 1st movement; projected duration of entire work = 90

N.B.Reproduction by any means of all or any part or parts of all musical and literary works printed or otherwise by Alistair Hinton and its sale hire or distribution except by prior written consent of Alistair Hinton or his authorised agents or suppliers shall constitute infringement of copyright and is therefore unlawful

DISCOGRAPHY

This list details all commercial recordings of Alistair Hinton’s music; it is updated frequently. Enquiries about recordings made specifically for broadcast must be referred to the relevant broadcasting organisation. Availability information is not included; The Sorabji Archive is rarely advised of deletions so cannot guarantee availability of CDs for sale. However, Altarus Records never withdraws CDs from sale, once released. Non-deleted items are available from or via any classical record retailer. By special arrangement, The Sorabji Archive also supplies Altarus CDs of Alistair Hinton’s music direct. We will be pleased at all times to provide information on all forthcoming releases.

 

Artist(s) / Title(s) / Work(s)

Product No.

Format

Label / Country / Date

       

DONNA AMATO (piano)

Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Grieg, Op. 16

(Recital of works by Grieg-Stevenson / Stevenson / Sorabji / Hinton)

AIR-CD-9021

CD

Altarus UK, 1993

       

KEVIN BOWYER (organ) / JOHN OGDON (piano) "In Memoriam John Ogdon"

Pansophiæ for John Ogdon, Op. 22

(Special commemorative issue:

organ recital of works by Stevenson / Hinton / Busoni-Middelschulte [Kevin Bowyer] /

piano recital of works by Busoni, Stevenson and Ogdon [John Ogdon])

AIR-CD-9063(2)

2-CD set

Altarus USA, 1994

       

JAGDISH MISTRY / MARCUS BARCHAM-STEVENS (violins),

LEVINE ANDRADE (viola), MICHAEL STIRLING (’cello),

CORRADO CANONICI (double bass), SARAH LEONARD (soprano)

String Quintet, Op. 13

AIR-CD-9066(3)

3-CD set

Altarus USA, 2002

 

WORLD PREMIÈRES OF MUSICAL WORKS BY ALISTAIR HINTON

Medium/Title

Composed

No.

Performer(s)

Venue/Broadcaster

Year

           

ORGAN

           

Pansophiæ for John Ogdon

1990

22

Kevin Bowyer

Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, UK

1991

           

Amatory Offertory

1990

23

Thomas Smith

Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York, USA

1990

           

Offrande d’Amour

2002

44

Malcolm Weschler

Trinity Episcopal Church, Stamford, CT, USA

2002

           
           

VOICE & PIANO

           

Five Songs of Tagore (soprano solo)

1970

7

Bridgett Gill /

the composer

Royal College of Music, London, UK

1971

           

In Solitude - In Plenitude (bass solo)

1996

33

Brent Stater /

Donna Amato

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, PA, USA

Sewickley Bachfest

1999

           

Six Songs (soprano solo)

2000

40

Sarah Leonard /

Stephen Gutman

Conway Hall, London, UK

Planet Tree Festival 2000

2000

           
           

CHAMBER ENSEMBLE/SOLO INSTRUMENT

           

Sonatina, for oboe

1969

4

Nigel Treherne

Royal College of Music, London, UK

1971

           

Piano Trio No. 2

1970

6

Roger Buczynski /

Julian Carlick /

Michael Reed

Royal College of Music, London, UK

1971

           

Soliloquy, for ’cello

1971

10

Claire Wright

Royal College of Music, London, UK

1971

           

Improvisation, for violin

1977

12

Ishani Bhoola

Bristol Music Club, Bristol, UK

1994

           

Conte Fantastique, for euphonium and piano

1999

36

Morten Wensberg /

Donna Amato

PNC Bank Recital Hall, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

1999

           

Passeggiata Straussiana, for euphonium and piano

1999-00

39

Morten Wensberg /

Donna Amato

PNC Bank Recital Hall, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

2000

           
           

PIANO

           

Piano Sonata No. 2 (first movement only)

1969

5

the composer

Royal College of Music, London, UK

1971

           

Capriccio

1970

8

Hilary Coates

HTV, UK (broadcast)

"Gallery" programme

1970

           

Morceau d’Anniversaire pour Kaikhosru Sorabji

1974

11

Donna Amato

British Music Information Centre, London, UK

1992

           

Piano Sonata No. 3

1978

15

Yonty Solomon

Concert Hall, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

1978

     

Ian Brown

BBC Radio 3, London, UK

BBC Young Composers’ Forum

1980

           

Variations and Fugue on a theme of Grieg

("Åse’s Death" from "Peer Gynt")

1970-78

16

Donna Amato

Purcell Roon, London, UK

1991

           

Piano Sonata No. 4 ("Ballade")

1978

18

Carlo Grante

Wigmore Hall, London, UK

1998

           

Scottish Ballad

1981

21

Ronald Stevenson

Saltire House, Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Concert - "Modern Scots"

1981

     

Ronald Stevenson

BBC Radio Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland

"The Musician in Scotland":

(a homage to Hugh MacDiarmid)

1984

           

Fantasiettina Crittogrammatica

(No. 1 from "A New Hexameron:

A Centenary Handsel for Hugh MacDiarmid")

1992

25

Ronald Stevenson

Fondation Pescatore, Luxembourg

"Musique de Chambre" section du Cercle Cultural des Communautés Européennes:

"Celtic Voices in Music"

1993

           

Vocalise-Reminiscenza

1994

29

Donna Amato

British Music Information Centre, London, UK

1996

© 08 October 2002

 

ALISTAIR HINTON’s QUINTET

The following note is reproduced as an appendix to my review of Alistair Hinton’s Quintet. Its contents form part of a private interview I conducted with the composer which I have subsequently requested Mr Hinton’s agreement to publish as an entity separate from the review itself. I am very grateful for Mr Hinton’s agreement to this and I reproduce the notes here to shed further light on this significant and affecting work. RB

………………………………………………………………………………

THE COMPOSER WRITES:-

The "fallible balance" in the Keats seems only to affect the occasional syllable when listening on my equipment here; as no difference of approach was adopted for recording this section (I was present throughout the sessions, incidentally), I am therefore inclined to blame the composer rather the producer / engineer! A more general point here is that the quintet is not the kind of work whose vocal sections require the kind of balance more appropriate to music in which a singer is "accompanied" by an ensemble; on the contrary, the soprano writing is very much and very deliberately "part of the texture", although this is no wise diminishes its importance; in fact, one listener (not a musician, incidentally) has observed that it is almost as though she "becomes another instrument in the ensemble" - to which my response was that, for me, it is very much the other way around - as though the work is in fact for six solo singers of whom five are string players...

I would hardly have expected Altarus to expand by some 10% what is already a very generous (and accordingly expensive) book of 40 pages by printing as an appendix thereto a list of my works with dates and details as you suggest; it would admittedly have been a very nice added bonus, but I’m by no means sure that such a thing would be expected in the context of a CD booklet (did I say "bookLET"?!) - that said, I much appreciate your going to the trouble of appending this information to your review.

The only reason for the absence of tempo markings for the outer movements on the back of the CD box is that any individual tempo indication would mislead, since these movements each traverse a variety of tempi within its course.

The composer "pleased" with the results (from the performers)? - "overjoyed and astonished" would be much nearer the mark! Each of the remarkable players consistently gave his very considerable all to this project, "at no matter what cost" (quote from Norman Douglas in the Aria) - and I may as well tell you that the voice in what I had long believed to be my hopelessly over-optimistic imagination all those years ago finally materialised just as I wanted it to in the glorious form of Sarah Leonard who, incidentally, learnt her entire part (some 45+ minutes, I imagine - I’ve not counted) in a mere few weeks otherwise packed out with plenteous concert appearances and who, when first she came here to go over it with me (just before the sessions commenced), seemed to know the work inside out and back to front better than even I myself did - as though she had composed it herself, in fact. I cannot imagine any soprano better suited to it.

You make many references to other works within the course of your review which are, of course, as personal to you as the music itself is to me; inevitably, some I can easily concur with, some less so, others not at all. Perhaps you may be interested to know which (of those works to which you allude) I had heard by the time of writing the part of the quintet concerned.

The Bliss I had not heard at all. I listened to the broadcast of Britten’s War Requiem (one of his most telling works, I feel) when it first came out and the same composer’s Spring Symphony, which I heard for the first time shortly after completing the quintet’s first movement, is also, to my mind, one of his more impressive pieces (I had, incidentally, just met Britten at that time - he was most kind and encouraging, although I never got to know him very well). The Mathias I have never heard. I didn’t hear The Curlew for the first time until about 1990. I began to absorb Zemlinsky’s work (as far as I was able in those far-off days when it was much less accessible than now) just before I began the quintet.

I had read about Beethoven’s quartets in the mid-1960s and deliberately resolved not to listen to them until I was older; I nevertheless believe that I must have absorbed something of them even from that very limited experience, for I felt as though I was on at least partly familiar territory when first I actually heard them all during the composer’s bicentenary year (1970) and I was most affected by much of this extraordinary corpus of works. The first one I heard was Op. 127 in E flat, whose second movement certainly gave me an idea of the kind of thing I wanted to do in the quintet’s third movement - a very long, slow theme and a small number of variations (did you note, by the way, that Variation VI in my set is detached from the third movement altogether and turns up in the latter part of the finale?).

Much as I respect Howells (who was still on the staff at RCM when I was a student there), I never much cared for most of his music (apart from the very moving and all-too-rarely done Severn Mass). Rochberg’s and Simpson’s quartets were works with which I became familiar only from the late 1970s. Szymanowski is a composer to whom I have felt a very close affinity ever since I first encountered his work late in 1968. Again, as in the case of Beethoven, I had read about van Dieren’s quartets long before hearing any of them, though this was due to unavailability rather than personal choice; I heard nos. 1, 5 and 6 for the first time during the composer’s centenary year (1987) and, of course, the most remarkable no. 1 has never been performed live to this day (as far as I know, the Gabrieli’s broadcast has so far been its only outing ever). I am fascinated in particular by van Dieren’s quartet writing and believe the six quartets to be the central core of his work; I feel that they would form the most effective introduction to his music, if only one could go and listen to them all.

While represented to some extent on disc these days, Goossens is a name still largely absent from the concert hall, unfortunately - again, however, I knew almost nothing of his work until relatively recently. Bridge impresses me greatly, particularly as a chamber music composer - I first came across his chamber works in 1980 and, much as I admire all his quartets, nos. 3 and 4 seem to me to be of an order of magnitude above and beyond the first two - and, for all the immense appeal and attractiveness of his finely crafted "Fantasy-Trio" in C minor, the much later Piano Trio No. 2 is nothing short of a masterpiece, easily on an exalted level with the "Archduke", Tchaikovsky, Brahms C major, Ravel, etc. piano trios.

The Shostakovich allusions in the quintet are, of course, wholly conscious, especially in the second movement; you may be interested to know, however, that I only heard a Shostakovich quartet (the splendid no. 9, as a matter of fact) for the first time late in 1976, just as I was trying to resume work on the quintet’s finale, although I had heard both ’cello concerti and violin concerti and several of the symphonies (1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 13 as well as the profoundly disappointing 12) back in the 1960s before I embarked on the quintet - the first violin concerto and symphonies 4, 10 and 13 affected me particularly (and still do, for that matter). Someone even remarked about the second subject of the quintet’s second movement (with a sardonic bite worthy almost of Shostakovich himself) "didn’t Shostakovich quote this in one of his last quartets?!".

Whilst I actually wanted in the quintet’s closing 30 or so minutes something of the kind of valedictory feeling encountered in Mahler’s sublime 9th Symphony ("THE" Ninth Symphony, for me...), Delius’s Requiem and, as you suggest, Strauss’s glorious Four Last Songs, I had of course no hope or expectation of aspiring anywhere near such dizzy heights of expressive power.

It is interesting that you mention Paganini in one specific context; his strong and significant influence upon Liszt, Alkan and the entire history of string playing thereafter (even Irvine Arditti has testified to the importance to him of practising the Caprices) is such that it would seem impossible to consider string writing independently of his ground-breaking work.

Schönberg’s work - especially the music of the young Schönberg - exerted a profound influence on me from the first day I became aware of it a few years before going to Searle - more on this in a moment. Delius’s finest work has always meant much to me - the piano concerto seems pretty insipid, but Paris, Song of the High Hills, A Mass of Life, Sea Drift, the Requiem, etc., as well as some of the music from his stage works is often possessed of a tremendous power which is in every sense light years away from the sloppy-sentimental-pastoral-pre-"cowpat"-school outpourings of his many shallow imitators. We have so much for which to thank Beecham - and, of course, Fenby - in terms of our latter-day appreciation of Delius. Delius’s literary writings, however, are far less well known than his music and I am not even sure how much there is - not a lot survives, as far as I am aware.

You write that the music (in the latter part of the finale) "sometimes takes on a fugal character"; the fact that you seem not to have taken on board that the passage concerned is intended to be a full-blown triple fugue is probably again the fault of the composer! The opening section of this may, in some subconscious way, have been affected by the fugal section in Schönberg’s astonishing D minor quartet (one of his greatest works of all, I think) although at the time of writing I was far more aware of the effect of Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge upon it, not only by virtue of the obsessive dotted rhythm but also in that my first subject, although it derives directly from the first subject of the quintet’s fourth movement, opens with the striking four-note motif common to the central three of Beethoven’s last five quartets. The passage you describe as a pavane is, in effect, the second section of this triple fugue and the "chugging double bass" figure actually ushers in its final section; all that is missing from this entire segment as a fugue proper is a conventional kind of fugal coda, since this fugue instead winds itself up to such a state of tension that the only way out seems to be for it to burst into something else, which is what it does.

You refer several times to tonality and atonality. My attitude to what may or may not constitute tonality is probably less than conventional and influenced, no doubt, by having been raised (for a couple of years or so in my early ’teens) largely on a diet of Boulez, Stockhausen, Nono, etc. with almost no previous experience of earlier music, before being introduced to Schönberg’s Variations for Orchestra which effectively became the crucial station on my experiential journey back to "tonality". I became deeply affected by Schönberg’s early work and even made a setting for soprano and piano (with violin obbligato) of Dehmel’s poem Weib und Welt upon which the lovely Verklärte Nacht is based; apart from its opening three pages, it was absolutely terrible! and a most unworthy response to such music for which my gross inexperience (VERY gross!) is my only conceivable excuse. I tend to see tonality and tonal reference in quite a lot of music which others might be more inclined to describe as "atonal" and I certainly cannot think of any passages in the quintet which strike me as entirely free from tonality - but that, again, is an entirely personal view based upon my own experiences.

I’m not sure that Brian suffered quite the "impassive, uninterested, repudiatory or aggressive" public "reception" which you quite rightly ascribe to the cases of Pettersson and Vermeulen (been reading Rapoport’s Opus Est, have we?!); your first two words here do indeed apply in Brian’s case, whereas all four apply only in the instances of the other two composers - that is to say that Brian was rather studiously ignored while Pettersson and Vermeulen were rather more vilified (although it may be argued that these two composers - in certain of their publicly and privately expressed attitudes much more than in their music per se - rather tended at times to attract some of the abuse they suffered).

I might mention that the "high violin harmonics" you ascribe to the quintet's closing bars are almost all in fact stopped notes - even the improbably high C which is sustained by the first violin throughout the final chord.

Alistair Hinton

 


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