Simon Holt CD ‘A Table of Noises’ out now

Simon Holt CD ‘A Table of Noises’ out now
An 'exceptional collection...unreservedly recommended.'
Andrew Clements, The Guardian

The new CD from NMC Recordings of Simon Holt's orchestral music is out now.
This fourth, full-length album of music by multi award-winning composer Simon Holt on NMC showcases his highly narrative orchestral compositions performed by the Hallé Orchestra, under the baton of Nicholas Collon. Holt’s violin concerto witness to a snow miracle – here performed by the prodigiously talented Chloë Hanslip – depicts the story of the life, and particularly gruesome death, of St Eulalia of Merida. From the initial, frenzied cadenza in the solo violin we get a sense of the torment and horror the saint suffered at the hands of the Romans: her flesh torn with hooks, flames applied to the wounds, and her body buried in hot coals. A blanket of snow fell on her ashes, at which point she was declared a saint.
Holt's other award-winning concerto on this album is a much more upbeat and quirky affair. Written for and performed on this recording by one of the world's finest percussionists, Colin Currie, a table of noises introduces us to Holt's taxidermist great uncle Ashworth, a kind of maverick scientist-cum-collector. Currie says "this percussion concerto exuberantly tears up the manual on how to approach the medium and I am thrilled with the idiosyncratic, adventurous results". The soloist is seated on a cajon (a box-shaped instrument often used in flamenco), and apart from the xylophone and glockenspiel, all the other instruments are laid out on a table in front of the soloist; hence the title. Each brief movement has a descriptive title (eg. a drawer full of eyes (discovered by Holt’s mother in Ash’s bedroom tallboy and Skennin’ Mary (a neighbour with a glass eye that spun when she became angry) and is linked by five “ghost” orchestral interludes.
The short, dazzling, orchestral work St Vitus in the Kettle was commissioned by BBC National Orchestra of Wales during Holt's tenure as Composer-in-Association (2008-2014). The grisly end for this saint was a cauldron of boiling hot lead!
Purchase Holt: A Table of Noises here | Read the full review by Andrew Clements.

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Simon Holt (b. 1958)
Shortly after graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music, Simon Holt was firmly established on the new music circuit with a series of commissions and fruitful collaborations with the London Sinfonietta and the Nash Ensemble. Influenced by Messiaen, Xenakis and Feldman as well as visual artists such as Goya, Giacometti and Brancusi, his music is complex, dramatic and often enigmatic. The intricate internal structures of his works are concealed by a seemingly impulsive nature. During the 1980s he worked primarily in complex soundworlds, while since the 1990s the dense textures have often been offset by Feldmanesque moments of calm, that Holt refers to as ‘still centres’.
Holt was Composer in Association at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales 2008 - 2014 and during that time wrote a number of successful orchestral works including St Vitus in the Kettle, Centauromachy, The Yellow Wallpaper and Morpheus Wakes.
Read full biography

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