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Simon Holt

Publisher: Chester Music

Six Caprices (1998)
Text Writer
Federico Garcia Lorca
Chester Music Ltd
Solo Voice(s) and up to 6 players
Year Composed
8 Minutes

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Programme Note
Simon Holt Six Caprices (1998)
Adivinanza De La Guitarra

En la redonda
seis doncellas
Tres de carne
y tres de plata.
Los sueños de ayer las buscan,
pero las tiene abrazadas
un Polifemo de oro.
¡La guitarra!

Riddle of the Guitar
At its round crossroads, six maidens dance. Three of sinew and three of silver. Yesterday's dreams are searching for them, but they are held on an embrace of golden Polyphemus. The guitar!


¡Oh, qué grave medita
La llama del candil!

Como un faquir indio
mira su entraña de oro
y se eclipsa soñando
atmósferas sin viento.

Cigüeña incandescente
pica desde su nido
a las sombras macizas,
y se asoma temblando
a los ojos redondos
del gitanillo muerto.

Oil Lamp
Oh! How gravely meditates the oil lamp's flame. Like an Indian fakir it contemplates its golden navel, then is extinguished, dreaming of windless atmospheres. Incandescent stork, from its nest it pecks at the massive shadows, and trembling, comes close and looks at the round eyes of the dead gypsy boy.


Escarabajo sonoro.

En la araña
de la mano
rizas el aire
y te ahogas en tu trino
de palo.

Escarabajo sonoro.

Crótalo, Crótalo, Crótalo. Sonorous scarab. With the spider of your hand you curl the warm air, and drown in your wooden rattle.
Crótalo, Crótalo, Crótalo. Sonorous scarab
[Crótalo means both a castanet and a rattle-snake.]


Laoconte salvaje.
¡Qué bien estás
bajo le media luna!

Múltiple pelotari.

¡Qué bien estás
amenazando al viento!

Dafne y Atis,
saben de tu dolor.

Wild Laocoön. How you look beneath the half moon! Multiple pelota-player. how fine you look, threatening the wind! Daphne and Attis understand your inexplicable suffering.
[Laocoön was a Trojan priest, punished by the gods along with his sons, for seeking to warn his fellow-countrymen about the Greek stratagem of using a wooden horse to enter Troy. The scene is the subject of a statue group now in the Vatican, and of a painting by El Greco, now in Washington, but formerly in Madrid. Daphne and Attis were each pursued sexually by a god, then turned into a tree - he into a pine, she into a laurel. Pelota is a fast moving game from the North of spain, in which a ball is played with a wicker racket.].


Pulpo petrificado.

Pones cinchas cenicientas
al vientre de los montes,
y muelas formidables
a los desfiladeros.

Pulpo petrificado.

Petrified octopus. You place ashen girths around the mountains' middles, and formidable molars in the ravines. Petrified octopus.


La cruz.
(Punto final
del camino.)

Se mira en la acequia.
(Puntos suspensivos.)

The cross. (Full stop on the road.) It is reflected in the water-course. (A row of dots.)

Translated by Eric Southworth

  • 21 FEB 2003
    South Bank Centre
    Nash Emsemble
    Jean Rigby; Diego Masson, conductor
  • 29 APR 2001
    Oxford Festival of Contemporary Music
    Oxford, UK
    Nicholas Clapton, counter-tenor
  • 11 NOV 1998
    Six Caprices World Premiere
    Oxford Festival of Contemporary Music
    Oxford, UK
    Nicholas Clapton, counter-tenor

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