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Canto Ostinato

Nederlands Saxofoon Octet

Simeon Ten Holt


Year of release: 2019

Canto Ostinato 69:35
1. Section 1 - 16 Simeon Ten Holt 10:59
2. Section 17 - 49 Simeon Ten Holt 11:15
3. Section 41 - 73 Simeon Ten Holt 04:47
4. Section 74 (Theme I) - 87 Simeon Ten Holt 09:59
5. Section 88 - 90 Simeon Ten Holt 15:26
6. Section 91 - 94 Simeon Ten Holt 07:59
7. Section 95 (Theme II) - 106 Simeon Ten Holt 09:07

About this album

Canto Ostinato is a major composition of the dutch composer Simeon Ten Holt (1923-2012). Whilst in the early 1970s many composers occupied themselves with serial, atonal or electronic music, Simeon Ten Holt returned to tonality. He wasn’t conservative nor aiming for easy succes, Ten Holt felt he had to do this. He was suffering from what he called ‘artistic and creative anemia’. It was not that Ten Holt had not mastered modern complex musical techniques, indeed between 1950 and 1970, he had composed several compelling and well written pieces in a post-serial style, but modern was never truly his idiom and composing language. In the early 70s Ten Holt began to doubt the music he was composing, he fell into a sort of crisis, realizing his approach had to change. One evening he sat behind the piano an rediscovered the physical aspect of composing, thus the first notes appeared of what would become Canto Ostinato, an evening-long composition for keyboard instruments, a musical landscape without a horizon; a composition without beginning or end. The score is laid out as a route for the performers to take, using the so called ‘drift parts’ at will. The number of players is undetermined, as is the total length and the number of repetitions of the various selections on which the composition is built. The freedom left to the performers gives them a great responsibility towards the final result.

Canto Ostinato was originally written for keyboards from 1976-1979, but has since then been performed and recorded on many different instruments. This CD is the first recording of this piece performed by eight saxophones.

The Nederlands Saxofoon Octet (Dutch Saxophone Octet, in short NS8) was founded in 2014 in Amsterdam by a group of recently graduated saxophonists. They wanted to go beyond the standard saxophone quartet and decided to form a saxophone octet. The ensemble has a wide range of saxophones that allows interesting adaptations to a range of music varying from chamber music to symphonies. The NS8 also collaborates with composers of contemporary music. They premiered Via Dolorosa from Bernard van Beurden and collaborated in a grand project celebrating the twenty year anniversary to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. In The Netherlands the NS8 have amongst others performed in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Muziekgebouw Eindhoven.

One of the first pieces that the NS8 played was Canto Ostinato of Simeon Ten Holt. Saxophonist Stefan de Wijs created the arrangement and received the approval of the descendants of Ten Holt.

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Pizzicato (Nov. 2019)

In the eighties Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt landed a real hit with his Canto ostinato. The work thrives on an ancient musical principle of constant repetition, which the minimalists had chosen as one of their principles. Canto ostinato also has the wonderful characteristic that, at the composer’s express request, it can be performed in a wide variety of formations, leaving the performer plenty of freedom within the given structure. The Nederlands Saxofoon Octet uses these freedom pleasurably and very musically. The music is constantly in motion, the tension never diminishes, the repetitive sequences are hardly noticeable as such, since the music is constantly in flux and new melodic passages can be discovered again and again. The present instrumentation also offers the wonderful opportunity to experience the saxophone in its most beautiful timbres. - Guy Engels

RP Online (Nov. 2019)

Geschrieben wurde „Canto ostinato“ für ein oder mehrere Klaviere, doch schon kurz nach der Uraufführung zirkulierte das Werk auch in anderen Besetzungen. Nun gibt es beim Label Cobra Records eine herrliche Neuaufnahme mit dem Nederlands Saxofoon Octet, die dem Werk auf faszinierende Weise Atem und Leben einhaucht. Es wirkt keine Sekunde maschinenhaft, sondern humanistisch inspiriert. /"Canto ostinato" is geschreven voor een of meer piano's, maar kort na de première circuleerde het werk ook voor andere bezettingen. Nu heeft het label Cobra Records een prachtige nieuwe opname met het Nederlands Saxofoon Octet, dat op een fascinerende manier leven ademt. Het klinkt voor geen seconde machine-achtig, maar geïnspireerd door humanisme. - Wolfram Goertz

Opus Klassiek (Oct. 2019)

Deze uitvoering door het Nederlands Saxofoon Octet verdient een waardig plekje in het nog steeds groeiend aantal opnamen (en bewerkingen) van het stuk. Wie ‘Canto Ostinato' een warm hart toedraagt moet dit nieuwe album zeker kopen. Het is het meer dan waard. - Aart van der Wal

Luister (Jan. 2020)

Gelukkig zorgt de jongste bewerking van Canto Ostinato ervoor dat we teruggebracht worden naar de componist en zijn zeer nauwkeurige werk en berekenende opbouw. Of het nu komt door de noodzaak om adem te halen of het ritmisch geklepper van de kleppen, de versie die saxofonist Stefan de Wijs maakte voor acht saxofoons en die meeslepend gespeeld wordt door het Nederlands Saxofoon Octet (NS8) doet de trance die velen beleven, uitblijven, terwijl de fascinatie voor de structuur en wijze waarop Ten Holt toewerkte naar de statements van de volledige melodie alleen maar toeneemt. En zo'n soort uitvoering van Canto Ostinato was er nog niet.

MusicWeb International (Feb. 2020)

With a dancing tempo which keeps its momentum and with plenty of little details that emerge and I certainly hadn’t noticed as much in the piano versions I’ve heard, this is far more than just a recording for the Canto Ostinato completist. I particularly like the way the closer intervals interact and quasi-resolve. Certain sections call up new associations, and you might catch yourself thinking of Michael Nyman when the lower instruments come to the fore, or Wim Mertens with the soprano saxophone sonorities. The recording is nicely balanced and there is reasonable distance between the listener and the instruments, but this to my ears is a more ‘wide awake’ version of this work than some of the piano recordings I’ve heard, where the temptation is to turn the volume down a bit and have some dreamtime. I imagine that you will be less likely to find yourself entering a meditative state with eight saxophones, and this is by no means a bad thing.


Technical Specifications

Speakers KEF 105.3
Digital To Analog Converter Hapi, Merging
Mastering Engineer Tom Peeters
Editing Pyramix, Merging
Cables Acoustic Revive
Microphones B&K 4003, modified by Rens Heijnis
Recording Format DSD 256
Analog To Digital Converter HAPI, Merging
Recording Date 29 and 30 april 2019
Recording Location Cunera kerk, Rhenen, Netherlands
Production Tom Peeters