Holt: A book of Colours

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Holt
LABELS: NMC
WORKS: a book of colours; Tauromaquia; Black Lanterns; Klop’s Last Bite; Nigredo
PERFORMER: Rolf Hind (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: NMC D 128

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Simon Holt’s piano output is small, and most of it is on this CD. Earliest is Tauromaquia, and although there are echoes of Messiaen in its textures, as well as in its clarity and certainty, its harmonic world is at a tangent, and its narrative thread, inspired by Goya’s studies of bullfighting, far from Messiaen’s monolithic structures.

Black Lanterns and Nigredo are also single-movement works, both expanding from small beginnings into areas of virtuosity which are effortlessly negotiated by Rolf Hind. He brings a richness of texture and rhythmic inevitability to the music, backed up by the natural sound of the Potton Hall acoustic.

In Klop’s Last Bite, Hind surmounts a different problem: to characterise the 11 miniatures that make up the story of Klop the bedbug and his adversary the mad flea. Sometimes there’s as much silence as sound, but also lush harmonies as Klop dreams of warm blood, and an overweening chorale as he gets above himself. Not to mention the wild attacks of the flea.

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The five pieces in a book of colours are more substantial, and, although written separately, they form a satisfying set, whose disparate moods are drawn together by the longer final movement, before subsiding into the dust. Martin Cotton