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“Rolf Hind's performance of his own concerto was crammed full of unfamiliar sounds.. A percussionist wielding a toy whirly tube, pieces of paper being torn to shreds, members of the orchestra humming and whistling …. Hind's is music to be listened to, in the strictest sense. Though it is tempting to seek out and catalogue each mystery sound, the reward for resisting is great. Based upon the dual concepts of Maya (the external world) and Sesha ("what remains") in eastern philosophy, the work divides into two sections. The first, chaotic and bustling, presents a many-layered spatial struggle between muted lower brass, concentrated accordion interjections and prepared piano. The simple stasis of the second section, introduced by a beguiling piano cadenza, is where the real nub of the piece lies however; mesmeric and meditative.”
(The Scotsman)

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Rolf Hind's Maya-Sesha, written for the composer as soloist, is not a piano concerto in the traditional sense, but more of a concertante work for piano and ensemble. Unusual sonorities abound: Hind has stripped the violin section down to four players and bolstered the remaining ensemble with the distinctive shrieking sound of the soprano saxophone, an accordion and a quartet of recorders. The piano itself is an extremely reticent soloist, emerging only after 10 minutes to a mixture of exotic-sounding prepared strings. Towards the end, in what is the work's most effective section, these tones are combined in a quasi-cadenza, accompanied by a mysterious chorus of hums and sighs that finally dissolves into stillness amid the eerie sound of whistling and tolling gongs.
Rowena Smith – (The Guardian)

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Rolf Hind's The Eye of Fire was the summation of the evening, as well as its climax. The six movements are based on Yoga positions - Hero, Cobra, Eagle, Corpse, Nataraja and Child. They depict, variously, the positions themselves, Hind's meditation on these positions and his physical response to placing himself in these positions. The result is a work of intricate and entrancing strangeness. East meets West once more. We have a dervish-type dance inspired by Shiva; we have a raga-without-tonic; we have unison; we have twanged piano strings and sepulchral knockings; we have a piano solo and, elsewhere, the strings alone. Towards the end, after this parade of diverse and wide-ranging musics and colours, a melody appears: one which apparently had been present throughout. The third eye is opening, showing us a new form of awareness. The Eye of Fire is a spiritual journey, here played with calm and rapt dedication. I would happily hear it again, more than once.
(...classical source...)
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Review of The Eye of Fire tour, December 06: Not every concert comes prefaced with a yoga demonstration. But not every concert features Rolf Hind's The Eye of Fire -- 25 minutes of musical contortions for piano quintet, inspired by yoga positions ranging from the nonchalant Corpse to the joint-wracking Scorpion.


Considering the exertions new music makes, I'm surprised that the marriage hasn't been tried before. This exuberantly imagined piece certainly made a grand finale to Hind's SPNM (Society for the Promotion of New Music) touring programme, littered with premieres from young composers, performed with the Duke Quartet.


We'd begun two hours earlier with a persuasive account of the Schnittke piano quintet from the 1970s: disjointed, ghostly, mad -- though compared to Hind's creation a piece as conservative as Brahms.


Schnittke at least kept the pianist sitting down; Hind requires a prepared piano and much plucking and thudding. The result is lyrical chaos, playful and spiritual both at once: proof enough that Hind isn't just a formidable piano player but a composer of note as well.
(The Times)

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Of all the composers featured, Rolf Hind is the name most recognisable, albeit for his more familiar persona as pianist. Hind is exceptionally self critical of his own music which possibly accounts for the fact that his work is still relatively little known. Solgata, appropriately for piano and played by the composer, describes the path of the sun on water and was intended as a companion piece to the earlier Cloud Shadow. "Tampering with the piano" as Hind puts it, creates some fascinating sounds, not least when the music submerges to an underwater perspective partway through...
(The Guardian)
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In covering the festival's packed first few days, there is room only for brief mention of two world premieres: Hind's own Das Unenthullte, a mesmerisingly evocative and disturbing piece for perambulating violinist and piano; and Stuart MacRae's Ancrene Wisse...
(Keith Potter,The Independent)
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Hind also appeared as the composer of a duo, Die Unenthüllte, daring and imaginative in the sound world, surprisingly renouncing traditional pianistic effects in exchange for an acoustical fantasy, leading both instruments to the edge of their capabilities: torn clouds of stormy weather in a low dramatic lightning...
(Politiken (Denmark)
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[Rolf Hind's] ritualistic Horse Sacrifice is a major work displaying originality and imagination, auguring well for a composing future
(ClassicalMusicNet)
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..Hind's inspiration was an ancient Hindu ritual and places a solo cello centrally as the sacrificial victim and surrounds him with five other instrumentalists who constantly moved positions. The sound world, with its edgy, predominantly high-register writing, is .. haunting.
(Andrew Clements, The Guardian)
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..Highlights were Rolf Hind's The City of Love (with surprisingly unvirtuosic piano part..)
La folia online......

 

..Dreamy and restless, Solgata (a Swedish word for the sun's path on water) is one of those rare prepared-piano pieces that stands away from Cage's influence..
(La Folia online Dec 2002)

 

.... The Eye of Fire, its sequence of movements based on yoga positions, proved a fascinating half hour of music for prepared piano and quartet... its sounds were intriguing, but however complex the score-notation, what we heard was refreshingly simple and unpretentious...
(Birmingham Post)
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... Hind's own Hindi song cycle The City of Love was a highlight, with whistling and humming helping violin and prepared piano to weave a delicately resonant web around the extraordinary compass of Lixenberg's voice..
(Erica Jeal 21st November 2005 Guardian)
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The festival picked up pace with a blistering recital by the violinist David Alberman, pianist Rolf Hind and singer Lore Lixenberg. One highlight was Hind's own gorgeous song cycle The City of Love, utilising all manner of avant-garde vocal and fiddle techniques (as well as twangs and bongs from a prepared piano) to produce textures of ear-tickling delicacy.
(Richard Morrison 22nd November 2005 The Times)
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 Poetry and modesty are not qualities to be sniffed at in new music, and they were to the fore in this first concert of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s new season.

Rolf Hind’s The City of Love - three settings for soprano and piano of 17th-century poems in a language ancestral to modern Hindi - is couched in an attractive blend of George Crumb (whose kitschy sound effects enjoyed a vogue in the 1960s and 70s) and Messiaen. And his solo piano piece, A Jasmine Petal, a Single Hair, Seven Mattresses, a Pea, is an equally unpretentious tone poem, built around a gradual ascent before finally revealing the “pea” in the shape of a deep bass note.

David Fanning, the Daily Telegraph.




Rolf Hind is playing his own piano concerto, which the BBC commissioned. He calls it a concerto but insists that it's not – his part is just one item in a bazaar of instruments. We have often been stunned by Rolf's playing of contemporary stuff – he does things to the piano that you wouldn't want to try at home, and certainly not in front of the children. For this piece, Maya-Sesha, the piano strings are 'prepared' with blu-tac, ping pong balls and wooden solitaire balls – and that's just for starters. It opens with a sort of dawn prelude, then takes us to a teeming, overwhelmingly noisy Indian street scene, which all gradually subsides towards an ethereal quiet ending. 'Maya' is all that noise and biz that we choose to call life, but many religions and philosophies call illusion. 'Sesha' is what is left after all that temporal non-reality has dissipated – the eternal essence, or whatever. I hear you yawn? Maybe you're too young. In India, thousands of men of my age give up all material things, home, family etc, and become sanyasin; they wander off as mendicants, dressed only in ash! and search for the enduring essentials of life. I'm not about to do that, in our Scottish climate my essentials wouldn't endure. The music strips away inessentials. All the violins are sent home. Except for four who are discreetly tucked away at the back. The violas are with us, but towards the end they all put their instruments down and a couple of them continue quietly singing and whistling; it's such a relief when they stop playing the damn things. Even the oboes put their instruments down and graduate to the unworldly soothing sounds of recorders. The cellos are left out front, well out in front. That's good. The accordion, a soprano sax, and a high clarinet all feature in the clamour of the street scene, along with a dustbin lid, thunder sheet, klaxons, and sundry unexpected noises. The accordion reminds me of the small harmonium used in Qawwali music, that's the ecstatic Sufi music that you can hear going on all night in Islamic communities, and the soprano sax could be the high melismatic chanting of the Qawwali singer. Here, it is all heard through the traffic din. (Rolf doesn't own these ideas, they're mine.) The essence of Qawwali music is that we are participants, not observers, and we should open ourselves to the singer who then can carry us, if we want, into trance, carry us on waves of extraordinary intensity, intensity that is alien in our buttoned up culture. Or at the very least, we should want to let him carry us into contemplation of 'the other'. Who knows? That 'other' could be an ecstatic experience of the inexpressible richness of life – though you might need to loosen a button or two to get there. As we move from Maya into Sesha things quieten down; you'll hear pitch-less gasps and gentle thumping noises from the accordion, a rowdy percussionist is left twirling a bull roarer, a pure innocent child-like sound, an utterly unsophisticated pink plastic tube that sounds out those natural harmonics that the ancients called the 'music of the spheres'. The piano strings are gently brushed and at then at the very end a gizmo is left on a piano string that causes it to ring, ring on continuously and evenly, on and on, and on. Aum! The eternal sound. At the play through, before I started loading all this philosophical stuff onto the music, I just wanted that sound to go on and never stop – it was beautiful, and none of us had any idea how it was being made.
Soothing Classics at Seven this concert is not. But there's nothing obscure or inaccessible in it. For sure, it's modern music; but if you're open and participate by listening in to the music I can promise that you'll be surprised and delighted.

BBCSSO blog; July 2008
 

 

 

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