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Simon Holt

Publisher: Chester Music

Nigredo (1994)
Work Notes
dedicated to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at 60
Chester Music Ltd
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
16 Minutes

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Programme Note
Simon Holt Nigredo (1994)
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Nigredo is the first plateau of achievement in the alchemical process or “magnum opus”, by which the alchemist seeks to transmute the ordinary – that is, to turn base matter such as lead, earth or stone into gold. I see the process behind alchemy as being a metaphor for a kind of spiritual journey towards enlightenment - the alchemist perfects nature and himself at the same time. During this process, an egg is placed in the athanor furnace, where a symbolic sexual union occurs; the hot, solar male and cold, lunar female interact. This event is filled with pain, rage, killing and putrefaction: matter is destroyed; opposites dissolve into the black, liquid nigredo. This “black of blacks” phase (the first sure sign that one is on the right path) ends with the appearance, on the surface, of a starry aspect.

On the day Rolf Hind asked me to write this piano piece, I discovered the painting “Nigredo” by the German artist, Anselm Kiefer, in which a landscape is turned inside out and, having made it “suffer” in this way, Kiefer has attempted to symbolically restore the earth’s vital functions.

This single movement piece is dedicated to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at 60. Nigredo is approximately 16 minutes long.

© Simon Holt

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    The Place, London
    Richard Alston Dance Company
    Jason Ridgway, piano

    Other Dates:
    14 June - The Place, London
  • 13 NOV 2007
    Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland
    Richard Alston Dance Company

    Other Dates:
    19,20 November - Arts Theatre, Cambridge
    27 November - Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe
    6,7 December - Patrick Centre, Birmingham
  • 05 JUN 2007
    Brief Candles
    The Place, London
    Stuart King, clarinet / Rolf Hind, piano

    Other Dates:
    6 June - The Place, London
    11 June - Nottingham Playhouse, UK
    16,17 June - Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter
  • 16 SEP 2003
    The Music Hall, Shrewsbury
    Paul Hardy, piano
  • 20 JUN 2003
    Aldeburgh Festival
    Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh
    Rolf Hind, piano
  • 16 MAY 2003
    Universe Slide
    The Music Hall, Shrewsbury
    Paul Hardy, piano

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