Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Kites; Feet of Clay; Eco-Pavan; Boots of Lead; Lilith
PERFORMER: Ulrich Heinen (cello), Rolf Hind (piano), Rinat Shaham (mezzo-soprano); Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Simon Rattle, Martyn Brabbins
Kites was one of Simon Holt’s earliest commissions in 1983, and shows the complete assurance of the 25-year-old composer. It conjures up the sight of various kites flying, colliding and catching the light in the breeze, and the scoring, for only ten players, encompasses the filigree and the weighty. Lilith is a much darker work where the lines are sinuous and sinister: if Kites was about air, this is about earth. Even more so is Boots of Lead, a setting of Emily Dickinson, where the singer (the stunning Rinat Shaham), is combined with a larger ensemble. The arch-shaped structure of the poem is mirrored in the music, which rises to a massive tolling climax, before receding into uneasy silence. This was recorded at the première – would that all composers were lucky enough to attract the commitment that Rattle brings to this performance. Or the virtuosity that Ulrich Heinen brings to the unaccompanied Feet of Clay, an alternation of heroic and nervy music increasingly destabilised by lengthy silences; and Rolf Hind to Eco-Pavan, a ghostly dance with a strong sense of ritual, electrifyingly scored for an ensemble including a prominent cimbalom, and, like the rest of the disc, performed and recorded with the utmost sensitivity and clarity. Martin Cotton