Imaginative modern pieces have much momentum
Sense of Strings is den Hoed in his most imaginative style of modern-friendly writing. Graded Level 3 to 5, they offer many contrasts. The book begins with Scherzando, a leaping allegretto in E minor that is mostly in 6/8, with the occasional 3/8 and 9/8. The main theme has an upwardly surging forward motion that has considerable momentum and is very effective. The oddly titled Mystic Bags is in a mixture of 5/8, 3/8, and 6/8, and flits backwards and 1 forwards from D minor to D major, but has i a lovely lilt to it. Burlesque is an animato E major work that sounds like its title suggests, while the final Latin Grooves is full of cheeky syncopated rhythms. The other four are as good, too.
Sonaras is a set of three pieces with a much more pungent harmony to them. All the usual den Hoed trademarks are there – the flowing arpeggios in unexpected combinations, the way notes fall under the fingers well, and the constant surprises in the notes and harmonies. The three movements are all fast; indeed they get faster as they progress. In the first one, the meter is always changing, giving a sense of dislocation and unease when it shifts. The second is marked by a substantial forward momentum, while the last, in 5/4, has a repeated-note idea interwoven with offbeat rests and otherwise flies off the page to a triumphant conclusion.
Both works are up to den Hoed’s high standards.