Vic Hoyland


Andrew Clements, 2006

CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Vic Hoyland turned 60 in December. For more than 20 years he has taught composition at Birmingham University, and has been associated with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group since it was founded in 1987. If his current concentration on large-scale orchestral works has meant the group has been able to perform little of his richly textured recent music, this birthday concert conducted by Martyn Brabbins made up for it, sandwiching two of Hoyland's scores from the early 1990s between pieces by Cashian, Sawer and Birtwistle.

The Arditti Quartet and the pianist Nicolas Hodges were part of the celebration, contributing a wonderfully exact account of Hoyland's feistily rhetorical Piano Quintet from 1990, when he was looking at different kinds of musical continuity and the ways in which melodic integrity can be preserved. Composed a year earlier, the magnificent Of Phantasy, for 14 strings, was the first piece ever commissioned by BCMG and shares the same preoccupations, setting a solo quartet against the other strings in a compelling series of encounters propelled by lyrically charged melodic lines, though in a brief introduction Hoyland revealed that the piece grew out of music for a production of Julius Caesar...