• Simon Holt
  • Capriccio Spettrale (1988)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart Revised for BCMG 2008

Performing Rights Society Composers Award in 1989 and RPS Charles Hiedsieck Award
Written 1998, revised for BCMG 2008.

  • 1(afl)01(bcl)0/11(pictpt)00/str(
  • 12 min

Programme Note

Capriccio Spettrale is based on the etchings of the same name by Francisco de Goya.
The work was revised in 2008 for BCMG, as part of the Sound Census project. This performance was conducted by Diego Masson.

Several of Simon Holt’s works have conveyed something of the dark light of Spain, whether by way of Lorca’s poems or, as in the present case, Goya’s imagery - in particular, the nightmare visions contained in the etchings the artist published as Los Caprichos. Hence this capriccio, which is spectral not in the sense of being eerie and wraithlike (except at moments) but rather in being brilliantly coloured, as well as generally loud and strong.

It starts from an alternation between emphatic tutti music and the livelier material with solo flute to which that music leads. Later episodes include a passage in bright chords, a short slow strain for bass clarinet with low string trio, and a solo for piccolo trumpet, this moving the music towards its animated central development. Eventually that development exhausts itself, and trumpet and horn call out, their echo taken up by muted strings. The fantasy is almost over, but not quite.

Holt wrote the piece in 1988 to a commission from the radio in Stuttgart, and won awards for it from the Performing Rights Society and the Royal Philharmonic Society. He revised it 21 years later for BCMG with support from the Sound Investment scheme.

© Paul Griffiths
To reproduce these programme notes, please contact Paul Griffiths at grifwest@juno.com