Robin Holloway: The Lovers' Well

Words have lain at the heart of Robin Holloway’s music throughout half a century of prolific composing. Released on the day of his seventy-fifth birthday, this album brings together six stellar performers associated with Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge – where Holloway is a Fellow – in celebration of the lyrical and dramatic qualities of his abundant output, as well as its profound symbolism.

The Lovers’ Well draws on a cycle of poems by Geoffrey Hill whose themes – a Spanish castle, amorous longing, carnal guilt, a wound that will not heal – make it a dark brother to Souvenirs de Monsalvat, a ‘waltz-synthesis on themes from Wagner’s Parsifal’ for piano four hands. Violence is barely contained by the formal games of A Medley of Nursery Rhymes and Conundrums, while radiant beauty imbues two works bringing together all four voices: a mini-cantata on couplets by John Ruskin and a partsong to words by Shelley.

"Like Britten, Holloway is an eclectic harvester of texts with a connoisseur’s nose for those where music can ‘add value’. Mezzo Kate Symonds-Joy makes a compelling case for A Medley of Nursery Rhymes and Conundrums, a pithy, sometimes comic cycle with roots in the late ‘70s. Its laconic immediacy is well served by Edward Rushton’s to-the-point pianism"


"Marking Holloway’s 75th birthday, this album traces his preoccupation with music and text, both explicitly in the form of song-settings and cycles and implicitly in a work that treats music as text…The stand-out work on this recording is the song-cycle The Lovers’ Well…Here is a music that, despite its multifarious origins, is always, in Geraint Lewis’s words, 'masterly in realisation’."


"Issued for Holloway’s 75th birthday, this “portrait disc” of some of his song cycles, alongside a piano four-hand recycling in waltz time of Parsifal (Souvenirs de Monsalvat), is like a modern Schubertiade — touchingly intimate, even domestic."


"Wonderful sound ambience and superbly descriptive annotations sum up an important and invaluable addition to the Holloway discography. Recommended, especially to British music aficionados."


"A surprising and engrossing selection of Robin Holloway's songs and piano music, where lyricism, modernism and humour intersect"


Producer: Paul Baxter
Release Date: 16 November 2018
Catalogue No: DCD34216
Total playing time: 1:14:30

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