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Holt: A Book Of Colours / Rolf Hind

Holt / Hind
Release Date: 07/28/2009 
Label:  Nmc   Catalog #: 128  
Composer:  Simon Holt
Performer:  Rolf Hind
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HOLT Tauromaquia. A book of colours. Black Lanterns. Klop’s Last Bite. Nigredo Rolf Hind (pn) NMC 128 (69:17)

Simon Holt’s piano music is memorable and distinctive. All the pieces on this collection, dating from 1985 to 2004, work from similar principles. Holt (b. 1958) has a gift for creating rich harmonies, which pair with inventive textures to “animate” them. During an initial listening before reading the program booklet, I thought immediately of Messiaen, and then saw the reference confirmed in the Read more composer’s own words. There are often moments of mysterious stillness, repetitions separated by silence, where one never knows which will be the last iteration. There are also rich layerings of ideas, some faint and ghostly, others foregrounded dramatically. Three works ( Tauromaquia, Black Lanterns , and Nigredo ) are large single-movement forms. A book of colours is a suite of five poetic movements, while Klop’s Last Bite is a suite of 11 tiny pieces, each about a minute or less, illustrating the sad and violent tale of a bedbug’s life.

Holt has remarkable consistency of technique, a real aural imagination, and a personally idiomatic sense of the instrument. I think I might well now recognize a new work of his cold, which is quite an accomplishment for a contemporary composer. I find only one thing lacking when I compare his music to that of the standards of the repertoire, whether Beethoven, Liszt, Debussy, Messiaen, or Ligeti. And that thing is the profile of the motives. The textures tend to emerge from taking a harmony and activating it, a little like a wind chime. The results are varied and engaging, but they still feel a little abstract, without that last measure of definition I find in the highest level of music.

But Holt isn’t out of the game, and I hope that another collection answers this challenge. Overall, I’ve found this first encounter of mine with his work to be satisfying, and I’m genuinely impressed. And he couldn’t ask for a better interpreter than Hind, who is always on top of every demand.

FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

Tauromaquia by Simon Holt
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985 
A book of colours by Simon Holt
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988/1993 
Black Lanterns by Simon Holt
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984/2004 
Klop’s Last Bite by Simon Holt
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2004 
Nigredo by Simon Holt
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994/2004 

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