Robin Holloway’s career has encompassed an academic position at Cambridge, a regular column for 22 years in The Spectator and a body of work that has received considerable accolades. This new release from the Rest Ensemble brings together two chamber works and a sonata for solo viola.
The single-movement Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano dates from 1994. Dextrous and playful, it comprises contrasting shifts in mood reminiscent of the episodic children’s tales it takes inspiration from. The Trio for Oboe, Violin and Piano from 2012 is intense and introspective. Holloway’s powerful re-engagement with Romanticism from the 1970s onward is observable here, especially in the piano part. The Sonata for Solo Viola, begins contemplatively, moves into a lively Vivacissimo and peaks in a stunning breathy Adagio before moving into a concluding Allegro amabile. It’s performed with great flair and nuance by Henrietta Hill who, along with Rees Webster (oboe), Oliver Pashley (clarinet), Rebecca Raimondi (violin) and Alessandro Viale (piano) is a member of Rest Ensemble, a collective with particular interest in contemporary composition.
The CD was made in conjunction with the composer himself (who is 75 this year), and performances are excellent and authoritative. Its crisp clarity is a suitable reflection of Holloway’s compositional process, one which navigates an intriguing path between Romanticism and modernist techniques.