Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Alun Hoddinott: Intrada



On Sunday last, I was sorting out a box of organ music that clutters up the floor of my music room. I was putting things into some kind of order – all the green Novello 'Bach' scores, the Edition Peters 'Pachabel' and a motley collection of Herbert Howells and Percy Whitlock. Towards the bottom of the pile I found two volumes of the OUP publication 'Easy Modern Organ.' I can recall buying these some thirty odd years ago in the hope that I would be able to impress my friends and more importantly a girl-friend with something a bit more ‘spikey’ than the Henry Smart and Caleb Simper that always seemed to be lying around the organ loft.
There was only one piece I could get my feet and fingers round- and that was Alun Hoddinott’s Intrada. Looking at this piece again brought a lot of memories back from all those years ago. I had recently heard this composer’s radio opera The Beach of Falesa on the wireless and I had been impressed. I had attended a performance of the Sonata No. 6 for Piano by the same composer at the Purcell Room. And here was a piece of organ music that sounded impressive – even on the small two manual church organ that I regarded as my own!
I tried it out at an evening service - and no one was really impressed. “ A bit too long-haired for our age, laddie.”
I played the work through on the piano – and it came back to me nice and easy. I thought of the composer, so recently dead and promptly sat down and listened to a CD of his great Second Symphony. But that is another story
For the completist, the Intrada was composed in 1967: it has an Opus number of 37 No.2 and was first performed at Cambridge on 15 July 1967. The organist of the day is not known. It does not appear to have been recorded.

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