Simon Holt - a table of noises, St Vitus in the kettle, witness to a snow miracle
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Label: NMC Recordings
Cat No: NMCD218
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 24th March 2017
WorksSt Vitus in the kettle
a table of noises (percussion concerto)
witness a snow miracle (violin concerto)
ArtistsColin Currie (percussion)
Chloe Hanslip (violin)
Holt's other award-winning concerto on this album is a much more upbeat and quirky affair. Written for and performed on this recording by one of the world's finest percussionists, Colin Currie, a table of noises introduces us to Holt's taxidermist great uncle Ashworth, a kind of maverick scientist-cum collector. Currie says "this percussion concerto exuberantly tears up the manual on how to approach the medium and I am thrilled with the idiosyncratic, adventurous results". The soloist is seated on a cajón (a box-shaped instrument often used in flamenco), and apart from the xylophone and glockenspiel, all the other instruments are laid out on a table in front of the soloist; hence the title. Each brief movement has a descriptive title, e.g. a drawer full of eyes (discovered by Holt’s mother in Ash’s bedroom tallboy) and Skennin’ Mary (a neighbour with a glass eye that spun when she became angry) and is linked by five “ghost” orchestral interludes.
The short, dazzling, orchestral work St Vitus in the kettle was commissioned by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales during Holt's tenure as Composer-in-Association (2008-2014). The grisly end for this saint was a cauldron of boiling hot lead!
In its own typically idiosyncratic way, the percussion work is equally haunting. Composed for Colin Currie, and inspired by Holt’s memories of a great uncle who was a one-legged taxidermist, it limits the soloist to the instruments he can place on a table, yet generates an astonishing variety of pitched and unpitched textures that punctuate the orchestra’s riffs and manic clockworks. Andrew Clements
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