Thursday, 1 March 2012

Alun Hoddinott Welsh Dances Op.64 [Set 2]

As today is St David’s Day it is a treat to hear this YouTube recording of Alun Hoddinott’s fine second set of Welsh Dances.  The National Youth Orchestra of Wales is here conducted by Arthur Davison on this 1969 LP issued by 'Music for Pleasure'.

The second set of Welsh Dances Op.64 was written in 1969, some eleven years after the first. They were a commission by the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and were intended to be part of the celebrations for the Investiture. They are not based on folk tunes but rely on a distillation of Welsh music as seen through the lens of a skilful composer who was equally adept at writing  progressive and 'light music'. The dances are quite short with only the 'lento' being of considerable weight and emotion. Hoddinott is a master of orchestration and contrives to create a diverse texture of sound on a relatively small canvas. The second movement 'presto' is a fine example of the composer's skill. Yet, it is the profound slow movement that defines the entire work. The Investiture was a serious occasion as well as being a celebration. Hoddinott creates a misty impression with this music that is both evocative and reflective. The last dance restores the sense of fun, however, and the work ends in blaze of sound.

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