Ten Holt: Canto Ostinato, 2 Piano Version

Ten Holt: Canto Ostinato, 2 Piano Version
Composer Simeon ten Holt
Artist Jeroen van Veen piano
Sandra van Veen piano
Format 3 CD
Cat. number 96432
EAN code 5028421964324
Release December 2021

Buy online

  • Buy at Amazon

Other buying options

About this release

A new recording of the Dutch minimalist classic made by two of its most experienced champions.

Canto Ostinato is the work that defines the legacy of the composer Simeon ten Holt, who died in 2012 at the age of 89. There are 106 sections of repeating five-beat patterns whose patterned, repetitive but gradually evolving repetition produce a mesmerising effect on the listener – a dance-like sense of even unevenness – akin to masterpieces from the US minimalist school such as Steve Reich’s Music for 16 Musicians and Philip Glass’s Music in 12 Parts. However, the sections need not be repeated literally, and the performers can vary the dynamics, the manner of playing (legato vs. staccato, for example), and the octave in which the material is played.

Ten Holt completed Canto Ostinato in 1979 for an instrumentation of three pianos and electronic organ, but the cycle has proved itself adaptable to several different combinations of keyboard instruments, and these versions were brought together by Jeroen van Veen on a compendium produced by Brilliant Classics in 2014. ‘Canto Ostinato XL’ (9453) included this two-piano scoring as well as versions for prepared pianos, organ and marimbas, but Jeroen and Sandra van Veen have re-recorded it in 2021; the fourth version they have produced, which brings together all the varieties of arrangement and articulation developed through the course of concert performances given across the world.

‘Tonality after the death of tonality’, Ten Holt described the language of Canto Ostinato, and Jeroen van Veen compares its style to the music of Chopin: tranquil, immersive, melancholic and romantic. He worked closely with the composer over many years and can justly be regarded as the most authoritative living performer of his music.

Anyone having experienced the power of Canto Ostinato by Simeon ten Holt (1923-2012) will come under the spell of the hallucinatory effect of this iconic work, the most famous Dutch work for piano of the 20th century, one of the “classics” of minimal music.
Over the years Jeroen van Veen and friends presented the work in a variety of arrangements, ranging from piano solo through multiple pianos, organ, marimbas and synthesizers, each revealing other aspects of this deceptively simple work in which the harmonies shift imperceptibly in slowly changing waves.
About this new recording for two pianos Jeroen van Veen says: “Since each performance creates a new version the piece is evolving during the years. In 1996 Sandra and I recorded the first version, in 2008 a version that Ten Holt liked the most and the last one was in 2014 (Canto Ostinato XXL, four pianos and organ). This new version you are holding now is the latest including all the varieties we developed during the many performances we did worldwide. The last few years we also included a composition written by me, Incanto 06, which is a sort of more minimalistic approach. It fits into the Canto Ostinato and has become our signature over the years.”.
Without doubt Jeroen van Veen established himself as “The leading exponent of minimalism today” (Fanfare), “Jeroen van Veen has been a powerhouse in the piano world” (Musicweb). His numerous recordings for Brilliant Classics include works by Glass, Reich, Ten Holt, Pärt, Satie, Tiersen, Einaudi, Preisner and many others.

Critical praise for Canto Ostinato XL:
‘Atmosphere and detail combine to create a gorgeous sonic environment into which you can dive and revel like a child in a ball-bath.’ MusicWeb International

‘There’s an authoritative, even inevitable, quality to this reading that makes it compelling. The addition of a second piano enhances the music’s richness and complexity.’ Fanfare

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Simeon ten Holt: Section 01
  2. Simeon ten Holt: Section 10
  3. Simeon ten Holt: Section 17
  4. Simeon ten Holt: Section 20
  5. Simeon ten Holt: Section 34
  6. Simeon ten Holt: Section 41
  7. Simeon ten Holt: Section 56
  8. Simeon ten Holt: Section 60
  9. Simeon ten Holt: Section 69
  10. Simeon ten Holt: Section 74, Cumulation I
  11. Simeon ten Holt: Section 83

Disk 2

  1. Simeon ten Holt: Section 84
  2. Simeon ten Holt: Section 88 A
  3. Simeon ten Holt: Section 88 E
  4. Simeon ten Holt: Section 89
  5. Simeon ten Holt: Section 91 A
  6. Simeon ten Holt: Section 91 F
  7. Simeon ten Holt: Section 95, Cumulation II
  8. Simeon ten Holt: Section 105

Disk 3

  1. Simeon ten Holt: Section 84
  2. Simeon ten Holt: Section 89
  3. Simeon ten Holt: Incanto 6
  4. Simeon ten Holt: Incanto 6, Chords
  5. Simeon ten Holt: Incanto 6, Conclusion
  6. Simeon ten Holt: Section 91 A
  7. Simeon ten Holt: Section 91 F
  8. Simeon ten Holt: Section 95, Cumulation II
  9. Simeon ten Holt: Section 105
  10. Simeon ten Holt: Section 106