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Holloway's Debussy songs sung by Renée Fleming

(January 2016)

Renée Fleming sings Robin Holloway's C’est l’extase, his orchestrations of Debussy's Verlaine songs, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London. Recent Holloway works include a new mythological scena for tuba and orchestra, Europa & the Bull.

Celebrated soprano Renée Fleming gives the UK premiere of songs from Robin Holloway’s orchestrated Debussy collection, C’est l’extase, at the Barbican in London on 5 February, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo. The ten Debussy song orchestrations, all settings of poetry by Paul Verlaine, were commissioned for Fleming by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Reviewing the first performance in 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle described how “a beautiful and often imaginative treatment of familiar material offered a revelatory exploration of Debussy’s musical style”. San Francisco Classical Voice commented that “if Debussy’s settings take you right to the gate of Verlaine’s world, Holloway’s orchestrations usher you in, linking the songs and illuminating the view”. C’est l’extase and Holloway’s orchestration of Debussy’s piano duet En blanc et noir are available for performance in the Debussy centenary year in 2018.

Holloway’s Europa & the Bull, for tuba and orchestra, was premiered in October by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Manze, with its North American premiere planned next season in San Francisco. The concertante work takes the form of a mythological scena, based upon Ovid’s description in his Metamorphoses of Jupiter, in the guise of a bull, lustfully pursuing the nymph Europa and the creation of a new continent from their coupling.

“…though Holloway’s writing is fairly rampant in parts, he makes expansive room for exploration of the lyrical, even seductive qualities that give the instrument a certain nobility. The RLPO’s heroic principal tuba Robin Haggart fully conveyed the profound, singing quality achievable from this very large yet surprisingly expressive horn.”
The Guardian

A further Holloway work for solo instrument and orchestra, a new organ concerto entitled For Ever Singing as they Shine, is premiered in April in Gelsenkirchen with soloist Bernhard Buttmann.


> Further information on Work: C'est l'extase - Ten settings of Paul Verlaine

Photos of Renée Fleming by Andrew Eccles/Decca and Robin Holloway by Charlie Troman

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