Robin Holloway (born 1943) is today considered as one of Britain's finest living composers. His output is rich and varied, but somehow his music has always evolved within the perimeter of the voice. Indeed, Holloway's work has always been surrounded by, indebted to, complicit with words: the composer's own - often seductively compelling - words of explanation and justification, the poet's words that inspire melodies and rhythms which in turn communicate the true meaning of life behind some complex metaphorical scheme or allegory. And in his instrumental works, which incidentally are more popular than his vocal works, Holloway has disguised many a piece from his considerable output for the voice.
The programme on this disc, released on the day of his seventy-fifth birthday, brings together six works in celebration of the composer's lyrical and dramatic qualities as well as his profound symbolism. The Lovers' Well draws on a cycle of poems by Geoffrey Hill whose themes - a Spanish castle, amorous longings, carnal guilt, a wound that never heals - make it a dark relative to Souvenirs de Montsalvat, a truly delightful four hands piano piece in waltz-time on themes from Wagner's Parsifal.
Listen — Robin Holloway: The Lovers' Well
(track 18, 0:04-0:52) © 2018 Delphian Records Ltd :
Listen — Robin Holloway: Kundry, Kiss, Mystic Marriage (Souvenirs de Montsalvat)
(track 14, 0:00-0:55) © 2018 Delphian Records Ltd :
A Medley of Nursery Rhymes and Conundrums has as its centre the uncontrollable force of violence within the circle of formal games, while an enchanting beauty imbues Ruskin's mini-cantata The Zodiac Song and Shelley's part song The Food of Love.
Listen — Robin Holloway: The Food of Love
(track 19, 0:01-0:42) © 2018 Delphian Records Ltd :
Three Edmund Waller songs complete a programme that is as pleasing as it is edifying. Performances are full of expressive variety and sensitivity, complementing the composer's thoughts with undiluted commitment.
Listen — Robin Holloway: Old Age (Three Songs to poems by Edmund Waller)
(track 4, 1:57-2:45) © 2018 Delphian Records Ltd :
Wonderful sound ambience and superbly descriptive annotations sum up an important and invaluable addition to the Holloway discography. Recommended, especially to British music aficionados.