COMPOSERS: Bellamy,Bettison,D Pritchard,Hayden,Hayes,J Cole,J Simpson,Kay,Leach,Powell,R Baker,Stout,T Davies
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Hoxton Thirteen
PERFORMER: Composers Ensemble/Peter Wiegold
CATALOGUE NO: D 076
The Hoxton Thirteen are a bunch of young composers chosen by John Woolrich to write five-minute pieces for the invaluable Composers Ensemble. The result, he says, is ‘a snapshot of new British music
at the turn of the Millennium’. Actually it’s a snapshot of a particular corner of new British music, containing composers who favour allusiveness, craftsmanship and traditional instrumental resources; the sort who, unlike their brethren who prefer samplers and pop-driven ‘crossover’, seem rather unglamorous and don’t feature very much in the broadsheet arts pages. All credit, then, to NMC for promoting them, and to the Composers Ensemble for lavishing such care on the performances.
It’s richly deserved, because the pieces are never less than beautifully crafted, and often a lot more than that. The problem is that the overall tone of fastidious nerviness does become fatiguing. After you’ve
heard four or five pieces issue tentatively out of silence, and then proceed in stops and starts, you start to long for something forthright. When a fast piece finally arrives at track 9, in the shape of Rachel Leach’s excellent Green Plastic, Pink Oil and Water, the contrast does at least make it stand out all
the more sharply. To enjoy this disc – and there is much to enjoy – you have to sample it in sips.