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Iain Hamilton: The Bermudas, Piano Concerto No.1 & Cantos



Iain Ellis Hamilton was born in Glasgow on 6 June 1922. When he was seven years old, his family moved to London and he was educated at Mill Hill School. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in 1947 and henceforth dedicated himself to a life of composition.

The three works presented here are indicative of the broad spectrum covered by Iain Hamilton’s output. Together with Peter Racine Fricker and Humphrey Searle, he was one of the first British composers to forge a reputation in the immediate post-war years. It is to be hoped this release will introduce new listeners to his individual, resilient and multifaceted musical voice.

Iain Hamilton: The Bermudas, Piano Concerto No.1 & Cantos


"The most substantial piece on the disc is the cantata The Bermudas...The mix of traditional tonality and the spiky 'newer' harmonies is a fascinating one." FRMS Bulletin Autumn 2016

The music of Scots-born composer Ian Hamilton is not as obscure as that of some of the other composers represented in the Lyrita label's series of live concerts taken from BBC radio broadcasts of the 1960s through the early 1980s. Even so, he deserves the full-scale biography in the CD booklet here. Hamilton was eclectic even beyond other 20th century composers who merit that label, writing everything from light music and pops pieces to post-Webernian serialism. The three works here catch some of that range and make a case for reviving his music in general. The Piano Concerto No. 1 of 1959-1960 is the serialist work, using the combination of piano and ensemble as an ordered parameter in a sequence of short sections. The Cantos for the unusual, but oddly compelling, combination of horn, tuba, harp, and orchestra are pointillist, but nonserialist, short instrumental pieces. Most interesting is the choral cantata The Bermudas, Op. 33 (1956), which sets a poem by Andrew Marvall. The structure of this work is unique: two instrumental interludes use serial technique, but the choral and solo vocal passages are generally diatonic. This vivid work might serve as a wild card in any choral concert, and the BBC Symphony and Scottish National Orchestra performances here are top-notch. Recommended not just for those following Lyrita's releases.