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
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