"Of the generation of British composers approaching their fifties, one recalls principally, on our side of the Channel, the figure of Thomas Adès. Julian Anderson is known within a much more restricted circle. As for Kenneth Hesketh, one hardly remembers him but as a passing comet at the Présences Festival at the turn of the millennium, performed by Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta. This is a shame, as Hesketh numbers among those who have succeeded in finding a fertile balance between solidity of construction and a free discursive outpouring.
His Three Japanese Miniatures (2002) resonate with a subtlely polarised atonality, at the heart of which are outlined harmonies whose modal reflections could, in a subliminal fashion, evoke Messiaen, Dutilleux or Takemitsu. The most recent Through Magic Casements (2008) is typical of this perpetual cascade, of the fluidity which imbues all the piano music of this composer, a distant echo of the Lisztian virtuosity found in Jeux d'eau. When she gets her teeth into it, Clare Hammond is impressive.
Conceived as a book of hours with a title dedicated to the interpreter, the twelve miniatures of Horae (pro clara) affirm's Hesketh's taste for harmonic refinement. This virtuosic and crystalline music, which Clare Hammond recreates in all its freshness, sparkles like a fountain in full sunlight (V), presents a stylised echo of birds (II, X), and reminds us of Hesketh's specific interest in fragile automata (VIII). Plucking notes within the instrument and brushing of strings elsewhere unmistakably evokes Crumb. Erratic rhythms and chopped lines evolve at times towards a surge of energy. Tension is never far from the (fairly rare) calmer passages.
Hammond is the declared ambassador of this almost oxymoronic pianistic fusion of density and clarity. This, however, is just one facet of the composer to be discovered here."