Chisholm, E: Simoon

This page lists our only recording of Simoon, by Erik Chisholm (1904-65) on CD & download (MP3 & FLAC).

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Chisholm, E: Simoon



Catalogue No:




Release date:

18th Nov 2016




48 minutes



Summer Opera Sale

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Chisholm, E: Simoon

Jane Irwin (Biskra), Philip Sheffield (Yusuf), Damian Thantrey (Guimard), Charlie Drummond (Voice)

Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland, Ian Ryan


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The Simoon - the violent, hot wind that blows in the North African desert gives its name to August Strindberg's psychological drama, published in 1889 and later described by the Glaswegian composer Erik Chisholm as 'exciting and frightening'. Third in a triptych of operas which the composer wrote after his move to South Africa in the late 1940s, his adaptation of Strindbergs play evokes the desert setting through a blend of the Hindustani scales he had studied in wartime India and a skilful use of free twelve-tone technique, but was never performed with orchestra in his own lifetime. Restored here to full colour, this terrifyingly compact fifty-minute work reveals Chisholms ability to create music of extraordinary sensuality in which the senses are hideously deceived, the intense exoticism both beautiful and a parody of its own beauty. Psychologically brutal, its sensuality feeds upon death, while its subject matter was as thoroughly topical in its own time as it is resonant today, turning as it does on a confrontation between faiths and on the consequences of colonial aggression. Simoon presents no easy answers, but this brave work gives powerful expression to powerful emotions and beliefs; it is an undoubted twentieth-century masterpiece.

Erik Chisholm: Simoon, Scene 1

Scene 1: Introduction

Scene 1: La ilaha illa'llah! (Biskra, Yusuf)

Scene 1: Biskra! Do you still know how to hate? (Yusuf, Biskra)

Scene 1: Ever since my eyes first fell upon you (Yusuf, Biskra)

Scene 1: I am going now to sleep beside the spring (Yusuf, Biskra)

Scene 1: My eyes are already beginning to see red (Biskra, Yusuf)

Simoon, Scene 2

Scene 2: The Simoon is here (Guimard, Biskra)

Scene 2: That was the dog that bit you! (Biskra, Guimard)

Scene 2: Biskra, Biskra, Biskra, Simoon, Simoon (Biskra, Guimard, Yusuf, Voice)

Scene 2: I am Ali the guide (Biskra, Guimard)

Scene 2: I hear the murmuring of a spring (Guimard, Biskra)

Scene 2: What do you see now? (Biskra, Guimard)

Scene 2: Now you are dying, Frank (Biskra, Guimard)

Scene 2: Can you hear the drums? (Biskra, Guimard)

Scene 2: Yes, you are dead! (Biskra, Guimard)

Simoon, Scene 3

Scene 3: Simoon! Simoon! (Biskra, Yusuf, Guimard)

The National

“A stunning work: one which demonstrates why Chisholm is beyond doubt Scotland’s leading modernist composer.”

Gramophone Magazine

January 2017

“Jane Irwin gives a fearless performances as Biskra, Damian Thantrey is bruised and swaggering as Guimard and Philip Sheffield is a sensitive Yusuf…Ian Ryan [conducts] Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland, a collective of Scottish Opera’s freelance players who clinch the taught [sic], simmering angularity as well as the glittering refinement of Chisholm’s ensemble-writing”

BBC Music Magazine

January 2017


“Playing, singing and conducting are all excellent; Jane Irwin rises impressively to the challenge of the wide soprano-to-mezzo range of Biskra’s part, with Damian Thantrey’s Guimard equally secure and accurate”

Opera Now

May 2017


“Jane Irwin sings Biskra with a confident soprano, occasionally chopping her phrases awkwardly, but she throws herself into the fray with gusto, as does baritone Damian Thantry as the unfortunate Guimard”

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