MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: Crotchet


Simeon TEN HOLT (b.1923)
Canto Ostinato (1976-1979)
Kees Wieringa (piano); Polo de Haas (piano)
rec. 17-18 May 2007, Maria Minor Church, Utrecht
ET’CETERA KTC1367 [75.29]

Experience Classicsonline

Simeon ten Holt is a Dutch composer born in Bergen who is now in his mid-80s. Incidentally he is not to be confused with the British composer Simon Holt or indeed the Horse Racing commentator Simon Holt, but never mind.
Canto Ostinato, which incidentally did not receive its first British performance until 8 September 2008 in Cardiff, is one of several works he has written for two pianos. I could also mention ‘Shadow or Prey’(1993-5) and there is another for four pianos ‘Méandres’(1997). He is now a minimalist composer having had two other ‘phases’.
He was a pupil of the Belgian composer Jakob van Domselaer who was to prove a strong influence upon him but whose music has never really carried outside Belgium. Holt also took lessons from Honegger and Milhaud. Then he had a serial phase and now, returning mostly to the piano where he started. Like Louis Andriessen he has gone down a minimalist line but one which is very particular to the Dutch composers of his generation. One aspect is the ‘rehabilitation’ of tonality or as the brief booklet notes by Kees Wieringa says “redefining the beauty of the triad and related tonal means” … and I might add modality. For example at Track 36 a delightfully simple and effective modal melody emerges out of the ordinary major/minor tonality of the earlier music and the piece then moves on to a brief chromatic passage.
I was initially quite daunted by a CD of 92 continuously playing tracks. Each links into the next and many are extremely short. This I think is a useful idea as each track marks a slight change in the music’s inexorable progress - not in the ostinato rhythm itself or the speed which is established right at the start, but in each slight change of harmony or dynamic, articulation or texture or even of melodic line. The piece unfolds like a leaf in front of your eyes – sorry, ears - and once started you cannot let it go.
As you can see from the recording date of 1996 this CD has been released for some time but has only just arrived with MusicWeb International for review. The new cover is now adorned with various pieces of praise and comment. Of the several I would particularly agree with is one from Fanfare “…it is the two pianists who really dazzle. It would be hard to surpass the concentrated power of this version”. I was wondering, only slightly facetiously, if the pianists might get repeated strain injury. In the booklet there are also biographies of the two players. Kees Wieringa writes about the moment he first began to understand Ten Holt’s music as he stared across the sea near the composer’s home and thought of the ‘repeating seas of sound’.
We are told that the score of ‘Canto Ostinato’ has the “form of a route which the performers can follow by means of so-called roaming parts that are used ‘ad libitum’”. The composer leaves open the number of performers as well as the total duration and number of repeats. Wieringa adds that “the musicians are also given the freedom as far as dynamics and articulation are concerned”.
As you listen, note how various ideas - harmonies and melodies - make a return visit almost as they were at first, but not quite. I wonder however, was this in the composer’s or the performer’s control? It’s worth realizing, if I understand the advertising on the back of the CD booklet correctly, that there is another recording of this work on KTC1317 for four pianos (see review). It would be interesting to know how the material is utilized by the extra players. Indeed I could add that this has been one of those reviews when a score would definitely have been exceedingly useful.
Although the music is highly thought-provoking, quite exciting at times, and superbly played I have to say that I may well not play the disc again … and I probably won’t find my life any less rich for this deprivation.
Gary Higginson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.