Hoyland

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COMPOSERS: Hoyland
LABELS: NMC
WORKS: In Transit; Vixen
PERFORMER: BBC SO/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: D 072
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.

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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

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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