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WORKS: In Transit; Vixen
PERFORMER: BBC SO/Martyn Brabbins
Not the least appealing aspect of Vic Hoyland’s music is the (word) play of his titles. One is immediately drawn to a composer whose youthful essays include a piece entitled Jeux-Thème. Vixen, for orchestra, likewise encapsulates a double aspect, being both ‘Avicenna’, the Italian name for medieval Persian scholar Ibn Sina, and reference to an earlier and related score, Fox.


Aspects of Ibn Sina’s rhythmic theories also turn out to be embedded in the work, along with the reflected spatial rhythms of a Mitterand grand projet, Jean Nouvel’s Centre for the Arab World. These are impressively conveyed in music of richly various invention. Echoes of other 20th-century composers stand like bricks in the mortar of Hoyland’s unrelenting narrative drive that sustains this five-movement structure for over half an hour. Joyous and ecstatic and searching and evanescent by turns, with a rapt meditation at its centre, Vixen concludes with a hushed peal of bell-sounds, capping the torrential flow of its finale.

In In Transit, for five percussionists and orchestra of ensembles, downbeats are brutal yet, as rarely


in music of this kind, unatavistic. There are quiet moments. Even so, the dominant sense is of primitive energy conveyed with the crushing force of a musical juggernaut. Nicholas Williams