Thomas HYDE (b. 1978)
Three Dancers, Op. 11a (2005) [5:31]
Autumnal, Op.5 (2003) [15:22]
Nocturnes, Op.7 (2006) [7:54]
Second Suite for solo Cello, Op.3 (2001-02) [15:47]
Birthday Song (2011) [2:24]
Winter Music, Op.6 (2004) [5:45]
String Quartet, Op.10 (2009-10) [21:11]
Aquinas Piano Trio (Edward Vanderspar (viola): Eliza Marshall (flute/alto flute)); Catriona Scott (clarinet); Ruth Potter (harp); Katherine Jenkinson (cello); Evalina Puzaite (piano); Iuventus Quartet; Martin Cousins (piano)/John Traill
rec. Jacqueline du Pre Music Bldg, Oxford, 22-23 October 2007 (Three Dancers, Autumnal, Nocturnes, Winter Music), 24 August 2011 (Second Suite), 16 January 2012 (Birthday Song, String Quartet)
GUILD GMCD 7389 [73:54]


Thomas Hyde was born in 1978 and studied composition for two years with David Matthews before going up to Oxford. Since that time he has taken postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music with Simon Bainbridge, later studying with Robert Saxton at Oxford. He’s now a visiting lecturer and has composed music in a wide variety of genres.
The chamber music in this disc ranges over pretty much a decade. The earliest is the Second Suite for solo Cello, completed in 2002, in which the various movements fuse one into another with considerable skill. Whilst they may hint at neo-classical procedure, via the use of Baroque dance movements, in fact Hyde ensures that consonance and flux are not simply paramount features but that they are cleverly maintained. The cellist Katherine Jenkinson, who performs it, and for whom it was written, asked Hyde to make some considerable cuts, a point of view to which he acceded.
The Three Dances Op.11a includes one with a stylised Tango feel and there’s plenty of terpsichorean motion throughout, albeit not of the Cubist kind. Autumnal is a larger-scaled work written for five players and conductor, in 2003, and designated as a concertino for viola and four instruments.. Hyde relates that the New England fall and the poetry of Richard Wilbur are major catalysts in the composition, which vaguely recalls the Britten of Lachrymae, and has some Ravelian textures too. The movement from warmth to more austere figures is accompanied by a distinct feeling of melancholy, well conveyed.
Nocturnes (2006) for solo piano charts a restless night world in which insomnia is reflected through music of frustration and anxiety, and in which more nostalgic, spare and compassionate calm is gradually evoked. Winter Music is a paraphrase of a song Hyde wrote, and is reserved, withdrawn and elusive. Birthday Song represents another kind of self-borrowing, in which it functions as a ‘chippings from the work bench’ — the work bench in this case being the String Quartet (2010). Birthday Song is brief but expressive. The Quartet, from which it sort-of derives was completed in 2010. It and Autumnal are the big pieces in the programme. It’s also the most advanced and confidently handled of all these chamber pieces. The material is quite dense in places, patterns constantly shifting, and Hyde is not afraid to employ twelve tone procedures. Terse clipped cells slowly relax into more obviously lyrical textures and paragraphs: whilst Schoenberg may be a solid port of call, I sensed also a deep admiration for Bartókian texture, rhythm and colour. It’s a fine work and is confidently performed here.
Guild’s promotion of Thomas Hyde is not only welcome but has been accomplished with skill and attention to detail.
Jonathan Woolf

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