ROBIN HOLLOWAY (b.1943): Souvenirs de Monsalvat for Piano Four Hands, Songs: The Zodiac Song, 3 Songs to poems by Edmund Waller, A Medley of Nursery Rhymes and Conundrums, The Lovers’ Well, The Food of Love.

Catalogue Number: 02U049

Label: Delphian

Reference: DCD3216

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: That Holloway is a composer of great skill and versatility has been proven time and time again, but the diversity of his inspiration and a certain unpredictability thereof may have hindered a full appreciation of his output in some genres. This disc celebrates a song composer of accessibility and originality of style, who seems purposefully to have put some distance between himself and the English Song tradition. His choice of texts is unusual, for a start; children's rhymes, deliberately set in a non-childlike manner, riddles and verbal games rub shoulders with Shelley, Edmund Waller (1606-1687), and Ruskin, whose signs of the zodiac are hailed by Holloway as "mordant, lyrical, elegant cameos", which sounds like a revealing self-assessment. Everything here is tonal; in another moment of self-revelation, the composer refers to an earlier version of 'A Medley' as relief from "a complex tortuous modernistic thing" that he was working on at the time, leaving little doubt as to where he has stood since Scenes from Schumann. Which brings up another important characteristic; Holloway's love of absorbing music that he admires into his own. Here, it's Parsifal, to which devoted homage is paid in the manner of Faure and Messager in Souvenirs de Bayreuth and Chabrier in Souvenirs de Munich. The better you know Parsifal (Holloway studied it for his doctoral thesis, so he knows it better than most of us), the cleverer the humor in these waltz-pastiche-transcriptions is shown to be. The Lovers' Well, to poems by Geoffrey Hill "suggesting but never explaining some dark tale from the underside of Mediterranean chivalry" is a passionate and dramatic single span of a quarter hour, with unmistakable allusions to the original, non-parodied atmosphere (and harmony) of Parsifal. Texts included. Clare Lloyd-Griffiths (soprano), Kate Symonds-Joy (mezzo), James Robinson (tenor), Simon Wallfisch (baritone), Edward Rushton, William Vann (piano).

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