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Holloway: The Lovers’ Well

Clare Lloyd-Griffiths, Kate Symonds-Joy, James Robinson, Simon Wallfisch, Edward Rushton, 
William Vann (Delphian)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Holloway The Lover’s Well; The Food of Love; Zodiac Song; 3 Songs, etc
Clare Lloyd-Griffiths (soprano), Kate Symonds-Joy (mezzo-soprano), James Robinson (tenor), Simon Wallfisch (baritone), Edward Rushton, William Vann (piano)
Delphian DCD 34216   74:30 mins

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Hot on the heels of Rest Ensemble’s release devoted to Robin Holloway’s chamber music comes another disc, this time predominantly of vocal music, timed to coincide with the composer’s 75th birthday. Keeping the celebrations en famille, the Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge is serenaded (for the most part) by College alumni and alumna, who range over some four decades of his output, reminding us, en route that, 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, which also supports baritone Simon Wallfisch’s thoughtful traversal of the nine Geoffrey Hill settings that furnish the disc’s title track. Rushton is joined by fellow pianist William Vann for the most substantial work – at least measured by the clock: described as a ‘waltz-synthesis on favourite themes from Wagner’s Parsifal’, Souvenirs de Monsalvat dances in the footsteps of Fauré, Messager and Debussy, but at around 20 minutes supersizes their wry joshing. It’s affectionate stuff, though a whiff of the Senior Common Room stalks its knowing playfulness.

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Paul Riley