Huw Spratling

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COMPOSERS: Huw Spratling
WORKS: Mass of the Holy Spirit; Sinfonietta
PERFORMER: Susan Bullock (soprano), Jeffrey Dyball (harp), John Hatton (organ) Choir, Parnassus String Ensemble/Jonathan Rennert
Huw Spratling (b1949) is, as yet, relatively little known. He has composed over sixty scores including three operas and the critically acclaimed Fanfare for an Uncommon Man, which follows in the tradition of the ceremonial music of Elgar and Walton. His music, which is highly individual, is not in the general English tradition: one detects faint influences of Wagner, Fauré, Debussy and Szymanowski. The highly entertaining Sinfonietta for String Orchestra is an imaginative and skilful compilation of many styles, including the Baroque, closely juxtapositioned with jazzy syncopations, and with the whole embellished by showy pizzicati and glissandi. The Harp Sonatina, eloquently played by Jeffrey Dyball, is equally impressive and is the most lyrical and Romantic piece in this collection, sparkling like some mountain stream under a brilliant sky. Spratling’s Roman Catholic faith informs most of his works: his Mass inventively utilises a string orchestra and harp, commencing austerely, yet mystically with the Kyrie, before the harp adds radiance to the warmth of the Gloria and the beauty of the Benedictus. His music is served by fine performances from the Parnassus Ensemble and both sopranos. On this evidence he deserves wider recognition. Ian Lace