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Musical World

Edward Dudley Hughes

  • Composer

Reviews

Edward Dudley Hughes press reviews

A richly sonorous music’
Sunday Times 13 April 1997 on Chroma

‘A fine example of the hidden gems the Brighton Festival can produce’
Evening Argus 12 May 2004 on Memory of Colour

'A dramatic orchestral soundtrack'
Japan Times 17 April 2009 on AUDITORIUM

‘Pure magic...A rip-roaring vital spectacle...a show of terrific vitality and verve’
Independent 1 July 2005 on The Birds

‘truly emotional...an atmosphere of deeper resonances’
Times 1 July 2005 on The Birds

'Hughes's score is by far the highlight of this Potemkin'
Sight & Sound November 2007 on Battleship Potemkin

'A very effective score by Ed Hughes'
Sight & Sound November 2007 on Strike

 


'Then there is Memory of Colour, a music piece composed by Ed Hughes in response to Teruyoshi Yoshida's shimmering installation Surface of the Lake. "The sculpture, made of gold leaf and coloured cotton, was a springboard for the composer to come up with this gorgeous 50-minute soundscape. You look at the sculpture while the lighting changes really slowly and listen to the music, played by the Seymour Group. There are also recorded tracks of temple bells and Buddhist chants, and it's this gorgeous kind of meditative moment of stillness in the madness of the festival milieu."'
Brett Sheehy, Artistic Director, Sydney Festival, 2005

Symphony of machines: an introduction to the new scores for Strike and Battleship Potemkin

‘Cinema music should sparkle and glisten’, wrote Adorno and Eisler in their book of 1947, ‘Composing for the Films’.  Ed Hughes’ music for Eisenstein’s Strike (1925) and Battleship Potemkin (1926) brilliantly achieves this, in musical scores which fit the films perfectly, bringing out both their lyricism and the danger of the industrial and political conflicts represented.  The music embodies and extends principles of audiovisual montage which Eisenstein himself articulated, aiming, as he put it in 1939, to ‘reproduce the process through which new images are built up in the mind of a person in real life’.

The current revival of interest in the classics of silent cinema has given us wonderful performances by cinema accompanists. It has also opened up new opportunities for composers.  Sometimes, it must be said, the newly written music has been overly intrusive and insensitive.  In Hughes’ music, by contrast, there is a perfect fit with the films, with incidental sounds such as the factory whistle in Strike skilfully incorporated into the musical line.  Potemkin was first shown with Hughes’ music at an unforgettable performance in 2005 in the machine hall of the Brighton Engineerium, which provided a uniquely suitable site for it.  A similarly happy match between film and music runs through these two superb scores.

Laura Marcus, Professor of English (Film), University of Sussex.


‘many pieces stayed in the memory. Elise Lorraine’s recital, for instance, included ... Ed Hughes’s technically complex, but directly evocative, beautifully conceived new cycle The Desolate Field’

Stephen Pettitt, The Times 23 May 1989 on The Desolate Field

 

‘One of the highlights of the evening was the first performance of Lanterns by the Players’s founder, Ed Hughes’

David Crozier, Cambridge Evening News 29 July 1992 on Lanterns

 

‘Stephen Gutman also introduced a highly distinctive festival commission, Ed Hughes’s Third Orchid, in which each section of a single movement folds into the next, like waves or petals, disturbing the work’s cunningly crafted surface polyphony’.

Hilary Finch, The Times, 25 May 1994 on Third Orchid

 

‘His writing has absorbed the subversive gentility of Satie or Milhaud while firmly belonging in the sunny realms of post-minimalism...The three Orchids are dense, feverish with explorations: ‘sections’ of petals really do fold into one another to create overlapping whorls of sound’

Helen Wallace, The Musical Times, February 1995 on Orchids 1-3

 

‘[Aureola] has a rich, dense, polychromatic radiance’

Andrew Porter, The Observer, 14 May 1995

 

‘Most colourful of all were the sonorities of Ed Hughes’s Movements in Red, receiving its world premiere. The rippling effects of its textures teeming with inner detail were brilliantly created’

Barry Millington, The Times, 16 May 1996

 

‘Chroma – this densely but tellingly scored movement for solo quartet and a further seven players lights up the traditional English string fantasy with a wealth of interior nuance...Sometimes the mellifluous idiom is lightly peppered with dissonance; sometimes the first cello will strain expressively into a higher register. The players are instructed to use ‘hardly any vibrato’, but it is a richly sonorous music for all that, 12 minutes of steady efflorescence’.

Paul Driver, Sunday Times 13 April 1997 on Chroma

 

‘The best work, like Ed Hughes’s heavily perfumed piano solo, Orchid – a luxuriously wobbly jelly of a piece – gave the sense of progression through material, of deepening analysis as it progressed’

Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph 22 Feb 1997 on Orchid 1

 

‘Luminescence (performed by the Hertfordshire Philharmonia) offers a vivid expose of effects of light amid a continuous network of polyphony and I must say I found the significantly abrupt ending added impact and extra dimension’

Jill Barlow, St Albans and District Observer 7 Nov 1997

 

‘The New Music Players also caught the turbulent, scintillating lyricism of Ed Hughes’s Lanterns’

John Allison, The Times 18 May 1999

 

‘Sun New Moon and Women Shouting by Ed Hughes ...is a moving, quite unusual, virtuoso celebration by the Inuits of the rising sun after its winter sleep’

Peter Davies, Newbury Weekly News,  20 May 1999

 

‘I most enjoyed Sextet by Ed Hughes...though often quite complex [it] is admirably clean-textured and benefits from its boldness of utterance, deploying sometimes familiar materials to dramatically telling ends’.

Keith Potter, The Independent 23 May 2000 on Sextet

 

‘In Sextet, Hughes demonstrates a good ear for economical orchestration, drawing broad and dramatic textures from two strings, two woodwind, vibes and piano...the great pleasure of this disc – as with a punk EP – is in hearing a bunch of musicians who so clearly enjoy getting stuck into some fresh new music. Hughes’s Quartet is darker, more intense and episodic, for clarinet, piano, violin and cello.’

John L Walters, The Guardian, 13 October 2000

 

‘The Sibyl of Cumae impressed me, if anything, even more. This setting, for mezzo (Louise Mott) and mixed ensemble, of eight short monologues for the visionary priestess of Apollo, is big and bold, responding to the scholar and poet Tom Lowenstein’s gritty and economical text with music unafraid of a direct emotional response...the powerful atmosphere he conjures up is worlds away from, say, the heady delights of Robin Holloway’

Keith Potter, The Independent, 23 May 2001 on The Sibyl of Cumae

 

‘In a rare joint airing of Eisler’s Fourteen Ways and Joris Ivens’s documentary film Regen (1929), Eisler’s clouded musical reflections on these watery images were atmospheric and ultimately moving. Ed Hughes’s no less artful new take Light Cuts Through Dark Skies accompanied the same black and white projections on our second outing to wet Amsterdam.’

Lynne Walker, The Independent, 6 June 2001

 

‘The New Music Players’s stylish late-night Guildhall (Bath Festival) concert incorporated two showings of Joris Ivens’s poetic 1929 film Rain, first with Hanns Eisler’s music, then with a new and fetching score by Ed Hughes’

Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 10 June 2001

 

‘A fine example of the hidden gems the Brighton Festival can produce’

Evening Argus 12 May 2004 on Memory of Colour

 

'Predictably it was the work of the more mature composers that had the greatest impact. Ed Hughes's Sextet oozes personality, from its ecstatic opening, filled with effusive energy, to the engaging lyricism that informs its later Romantic flirtations.'

The Scotsman 11 March 2005 on Sextet

 

‘Pure magic...A rip-roaring vital spectacle...a show of terrific vitality and verve’

Independent 1 July 2005 on The Birds

 

‘truly emotional...an atmosphere of deeper resonances’

Times 1 July 2005 on The Birds

 

‘Hughes’s score is by far the highlight’

Sight & Sound November 2007 on Battleship Potemkin DVD

 

‘A very effective score by Ed Hughes’

Sight & Sound November 2007 on Strike DVD

 

‘In Hughes’s music...there is a perfect fit with the films, with incidental sounds such as the factory whistle in Strike skilfully incorporated into the musical line. Potemkin was first shown with Hughes’ music at an unforgettable performance in 2005 in the machine hall of the Brighton Engineerium, which provided a uniquely suitable site for it. A similarly happy match between film and music runs through these two superb scores.’

Laura Marcus, Professor of English (Film), University of Edinburgh [2007]