Martin Jones

Hoddinott: Piano Sonatas 1-10

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Nimbus originally released Alun Hoddinott's Piano Sonatas, Nos. 1-10, on two separate albums in 1993 and 1995, but in the interim, the prolific composer had already composed two more works in the series; thus, any numerical "clue" pointing to Scriabin's famous set of 10 sonatas is unintended. Yet there is a kind of mystical languor that runs through Hoddinott's sonatas that at times will remind listeners of Scriabin's vaporous soundworld, and his misty chromatic harmonies, complex cross-rhythms, and obsessively developed short motives are similar enough to those in Scriabin's music to make a fair case for some influence. Just as often, though, these multi-movement, highly contrapuntal pieces turn on forms adapted from Baroque and Classical models, so for all his apparent absorption of Scriabin's language, Hoddinott's formal ideas clearly owe a debt to earlier music, though veiled in a thoroughly modernist idiom. Pianist Martin Jones recorded this cycle in the composer's presence, which suggests that these are approved performances. However, because of the fairly distant microphone placement and the venue's lively acoustics, the piano's sound is muted and overly hazy -- perhaps not ideal for identifying fine details in Hoddinott's thicker textures, but conducive to the blurred harmonies and indistinct tonality that make these pieces atmospheric and mysterious.

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