IAIN HAMILTON (1922-2000): Piano Concerto No. 1 (Margaret Kitchin [piano], Scottish National Orchestra; Alexander Gibson. broadcast March 27, 1961), The Bermudas for Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra (Ronald Morrison [baritone], Scottish National Chorus and Orchestra; Gibson. broadcast April 22, 1973), Cantos for Horn, Tuba, Harp and Orchestra (Douglas Moore [horn], John Fletcher [tuba], Sidonie Goossens [harp], BBC Symphony Orchestra; Norman Del Mar. broadcast Aug. 4, 1965).
Catalogue Number: 05R061
Description: A prolific and versatile composer, highly regarded in his time and (like the others in this invaluable series) subsequently unaccountably neglected, Hamilton passed through a series of phases in his compositional career, encompassing tonaliity, chromaticism, expressionism, serialism and a return to a more tonal idiom in a kind of additive vocabulary in which each newly embraced æsthetic enriched, rather than replacing, the previous ones. The large-scale cantata The Bermudas, based around a setting of Andrew Marvell's 1654 poem, exemplifies this perfectly; it includes many passages of opulent tonality, making the choral and vocal writing splendid and ideally performable, while the orchestral part contains the bulk of the more complex, modernistic writing. Much of the work is clearly related to the English choral tradition, but with a sinewy modern undertow somewhat disguised by the epic sweep of the piece's overall vision. The First Piano Concerto of 1960 is far more uncompromising in its modernity, with a tough, largely atonal vocabulary and great rhythmic complexity in a tightly structured form that varies and transmutes material according to serial principles. A later revision softened the edges of this spiky score, but this is the original edition. The unusually and inventively scored Cantos, making much use of concertante groups within the orchestra, was a commission for the 1965 BBC Proms and is much less aggressively modern and more euphonic of harmony, though still some distance from conventionally tonal.