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Snowblind

How refreshing to hear a work by a composer who really knows how to write for percussion. What’s more,

Joe Duddell didn’t feel he had to employ a battery of instruments and have the soloist run a marathon

between them all to make his point. In Snowblind, a new concerto for percussion and strings written

especially for Edinburgh-born percussionist Colin Currie and the Ensemble, he uses a modest collection

of instruments: marimba, vibraphone, crotales and temple blocks. It was the honeyed tones of the

marimba that dominated the slick, first movement weaving in and out of the strings like a jogger dodging

traffic. The more ethereal tones of the vibraphone and crotales came to the fore in the slow middle

movement bathing the strings in a golden glow. However, Duddell couldn’t keep away from the marimba

which created a feeling of indecisiveness. Whilst there were some lovely effects, particularly the pulsating

aura of sound, there was little development of the material. The sparky last movement was the most

polished with its hypnotic and intricately woven rhythms keeping the ensemble on their toes. Currie

clearly relished the challenge of this complex work and is not only a talented player but an engaging

performer. Duddell’s concerto, which is being premiered on this tour is a fabulous addition to a

percussion repertoire too long on pyrotechnics and short on quality.

Susan Nickalls, Edinburgh Evening News