Album ReviewsReviews

Review: Richard Moult - Celestial King for a Year (2011)

artist: Richard Moult
release: Celes­tial King for a Year
format: CD-R
year of release: 2011
label: Second Lan­guage
dur­a­tion: 34:10

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

While the major­ity of Richard Moult’s recent musical works focused on piano com­pos­i­tions, this year’s Celes­tial King for a Year is some­thing of a new course, or per­haps only a tem­por­ary sojourn into new ter­rit­ory.

The first of three parts on this album con­sists solely of a mourn­ful com­pos­i­tion for strings, of which Moult uses a quin­tet on this release: three viol­ins (Ben Sansom, Iso­bel Found, John Cheshire Joiner) and two violas (Alex­an­dria Lawrence, Henry Pye). The sound of the piece is in line with the atmo­sphere present on oth­ers of Moult’s works - loneli­ness, a power­ful or even over­power­ing numin­ous nat­ural pres­ence - but decidedly more min­im­al­istic.

This effect is strengthened in the second move­ment, where Jes­sica Con­stable’s layered and treated voice weaves thick pat­terns that man­age to be unnerv­ing, sad, and com­fort­ing at the same time. Con­stable tran­scends the bound­ar­ies of clas­sical voice, endow­ing the per­form­ance with raw edges in appro­pri­ate places.

The final part returns to strings as instru­ment­a­tion, with some added effects and faint echoed voices. It is by far the longest move­ment, but unfurls more melodic devel­op­ment than those that came before, and this pre­vents the piece from becom­ing an over­long excer­cise. Par­tic­u­larly towards the end the intric­acy of Moult’s com­pos­i­tion sinks in, where subtly rever­ber­at­ing waves and a more ambi­ent mood are intro­duced, mostly com­ing from mel­lo­tron and elec­tron­ics, the only instru­ments Moult plays him­self on this album.

Celes­tial King for a Year is one of Richard Moult’s more unique recent releases, where he recon­firms his sin­gu­lar vis­ion as a com­poser. The release as a whole, lov­ingly put out by Second Lan­guage, and fea­tur­ing an art print of Moult’s lovely por­trait of harp­ist Áine O’D­wyer of United Bible Stud­ies, is sure to delight lov­ers of his earlier works, as well as those inter­ested in mod­ern classical/experimental com­posers in gen­eral.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. Part I (7:11)
2. Part II (7:33)
3. Part III (19:26)