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Snowblind

So far as percussion concertos go, Joe Duddell’s new Snowblind for Colin Currie and the BT Scottish

Ensemble requires the least gadding about the stage I’ve witnessed for some time.

Far too often composers try to blind us with spectacle and theatricality, relying on a massive array of

instruments to batter us into submission. Duddell, a percussionist himself, has gone instead for clarity of

purpose.

Indeed Snowblind is a sharply focused piece of writing in three distinctive movements, using only

marimba, vibraphone and,  of course, the obligatory temple blocks to give the odd kick start to a new

tempo or creative idea.

Currie’s performance was as slick and seductive as you’d expect, the moto perpeto manner of the outer

movements neatly contrasting with the softer gestures and subtler timbres of the central slow one.

Stylistically, Duddell’s music is not challenging. Neither are the underlying minimalist rock influences

harsh or overbearing. He confesses to a fondness of Sir Michael Tippett, and there’s a clear borrowing

from Tippett in the succulent harmonic contours of the string writing. There’s even a sense of the old

fashioned about it.

But it’s the fusion of that with the frothy and well-fashioned percussion writing that gives Duddell’s new

work its likeable and very listenable charm. In many ways it had so much more to say then the two works

it shared last night’s first half with: Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No.10 and Nielsen’s Op1 Suite for Strings.

Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman