The two pieces of Holts played are both twenty years old. While wondering if something more recent could have been chosen to open things out a little, both left an impression. era madrugada is the first of many Lorca-inspired compositions in Holts output. Scored for seven players viola, cello, double bass, piccolo/flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, horn and piano this 11-minute creation responds to the colour, heat and passion of Lorcas poetry (Holt then qualified his description as a cliché), specifically "Sorpresa", which concerns night and a knifed unknown man. Sounds fluid and scurrying ensue, with an active and pivotal piano part (Michael Round). If this sinisterly atmospheric piece seems more concerned with narrative than structure, its enigma holds the attention. It is recorded on NMC D008.
Kites, for a ten-player ensemble divided equally between winds and strings, is Japanese-inspired and focuses on a kite fight. Not your average kite, rather the O-dako variety, which can need 40 people to fly it. From serene open-air evocation to rhythmic ingenuity, the departing woodwind quartet (leaving the horn) plays off-stage at the close to suggest a wholly new sphere of ambient expression. Significant is Holts concern for timbre, highlighted when the oboist switches to a cor anglais.
Both these works left a powerful resonance of sound and imagination in these excellent performances, a concert repeated at Leicesters De Montfort Hall on 4 April at 6.15. As I say, Anthony Gilberts the next MOT in London, on 10 April looking forward to that.
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