Author Topic: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)  (Read 3459 times)

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Offline Lethevich

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Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« on: October 13, 2008, 02:59:57 PM »
I am not in a position to give a great introduction to this composer, who I only discovered today, but to centralise conversation on him would be good.

He is a Dutch minimalist composer, mainly known for his piano (and multiple piano) works. His style seems to focus around compositions written in brief sections under which the performer has freedom to choose the amount of repeats used in each segment - perhaps similar to some of Riley's compositions which call an amount of improvisation. This (like In C) means that works can vary significantly in length depending on the concept the performer has in mind.

The music itself, based on only having heard his "hit" Canto Ostinato is tonal and melodic. The melodies stand quite well on their own without relying on rigid progression to make their point/justify themselves (Reich's Four Organs is an extreme example of this, but Glass has some similar works), and the transitions between the sections brilliant, and potentially mesmerising depending on the performer.

Judging from mine and Maciek's reactions to his music, he could be considered a minimalist for those who do not like minimalism.
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Offline Maciek

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2009, 04:07:47 AM »
I would have expected Johan-Christo to join in but he must have missed this thread (as I have).

What are your impressions about the other pieces from the Brilliant box? I hardly listen to them at all. But then, Canto ostinato is long enough as it is...

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2009, 04:56:21 AM »
What are your impressions about the other pieces from the Brilliant box? I hardly listen to them at all. But then, Canto ostinato is long enough as it is...

I find all of them to be more minimalist than Canto to differing extents, in that there is less of an ebb and flow of quite different themes interplaying, and less of a feeling of a long journey travelled by the end. Generally the progressions in the other 2 CD works are more gradual and more tightly controlled, and sometimes a bit closer to the minimalism of Glass and Reich.

At first I wasn't too taken by any of them because I was looking for Canto pt.2, but on their own terms they contain all of the sophistication and melodic invention evident in Canto, they just seem a little less (struggling to think of the correct word...) 'romantic' in both tunes* and sometimes ambition. The way Lemniscaat's busy textures keep developing and advancing is engaging despite its length, and Incantatie IV is along this line as well, but perhaps a little more reminicent of Canto with its undulating structure. I have yet to fully get into Horizon's more subdued sound.

These are all very preliminary observations, though, as it's hard for me to work my way into familiarity with these works at anything other than a snail's pace - I guess my brain is unused to minimalism as anything other than background music, so focusing can be difficult... It's working with Ten Holt, though, as I find something uniquely compelling in this music. I have to admit that I've heard the first disc of the two disc works almost twice as much as the second halves, due to time restrictions, or sometimes a wandering mind.

*Canto was so highly melodic that at times it could be mistaken for romantic styled music, or at least, music that aims to tickle the ear rather than the brain. This is opposed to a lot of minimalism which focuses on clusters and their development, almost rendering the melodic aspect as irrelevent.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 04:59:14 AM by Lethe »
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Offline Dax

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2009, 08:41:02 AM »
I've found Incantatie 4 to be the most rewarding, perhaps because (this is not meant to be facetious) it's in the minor key/mode. It's good to hear music of this kind which admits to a European historical background (Alexandre Rabinovitch is another such composer) - in other words, it doesn't try to be second-hand Riley, Reich or Glass>

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2009, 08:58:50 AM »
Coincidentally I have just ordered Canto Ostinato and will post again when I have heard it.
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Offline Maciek

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2009, 10:11:45 AM »
I remember Christo/Johan recommended a specific recording of Canto ostinato once but can't seem to find that post.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2009, 08:50:02 AM »
I have been playing Canto Ostinato (3CDs for four pianos). I have listened to two of the three CDs so far. It will not be everyone's cup of tea but it is a haunting minimalist work - very atmospheric. I am not surprised to hear that it has been used as background music for TV documentaries. If you like minimalism this might well be for you.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 09:12:55 AM »
Bump!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/JDCsOL2vBJc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/JDCsOL2vBJc</a>

Give it a try, you might like it :) I won't blame you if you can't go much beyond 20 mins - it's quite demanding of a certain mood - but fortunately the entire buildup through the first few dozen minutes is the best demonstration of the composer's style.
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2011, 11:32:33 AM »
Simeon Ten Holt is only the tip of the iceberg of just how great music from the Netherlands today, especially coming out of the Minimalist vein, can be. I would even consider him to be one of the least interesting ones today, even though his music can be interesting. For the pinnacle of greatness, check out Louis Andriessen, who often get the minimalist label, but he is FAR more than a minimalist, especially in his post 1978 works.
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2011, 11:45:37 AM »
I also like Andriessen, but I feel that the two write music with different aims. I would, for example, sometimes find myself hankering for De Staat, and at other times for a Soloduiveldans, but would not neccesserally find myself in the mood for both at the same time due to the stylistic gulf. Ten Holt is self-consciously traditional and integrated, but it's not neccesseraly a bad thing to write un-flashy music.

Edit: clarification.
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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2011, 06:09:15 AM »
Bump!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/JDCsOL2vBJc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/JDCsOL2vBJc</a>

Give it a try, you might like it :) I won't blame you if you can't go much beyond 20 mins - it's quite demanding of a certain mood - but fortunately the entire buildup through the first few dozen minutes is the best demonstration of the composer's style.

I'm sorry. :(

Is that a b-minor to A 'progression'? Aaaaye ???,... why is this not 'Yanni-without-the-drums'? This certainly fits into the type of music they play at 'Meditation Meetings'. I'm not saying it's Steven Halperin, but, this definitely sounds like nothing more than a composed Eno/Fripp routine,... no?

I'm looking for more of the '70s sci-fi movie Minimalism,... complete with groovy sounds and that priceless feeling of 'road to hell paved with good intentions' sincerity (that only the '70s could provide). I'm quite suspicious of the young Avant-Garde Composers of the '70s, their earlier works (Murail, etc.,...), when the more mainstream groups like Tangerine Dream...

well,... nevermind ;D...

Anyhow, I aaaaam looking for a shot of that 'ole vintage Minimalism like I heard on the TV back in the day, but I weary of thinking about having to listen to too much to get there. Ten Holt is definitely not the CureAll for me, based on this piece. Neither is Andriessen, judging by my YouTube survey which ended with Hoketus. Waaaaay too much like 'bad trip' music for me. :-\

I'm the kind who likes the first, 'Exorcist'-part, of the Tubular Bells. That's the kind of atmosphere I'm shooting for. Feldman gets there... sort of... sometimes... Part has it in Festina Lente...

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2011, 06:39:58 AM »
Some of Ten Holt's other pieces are more structured, but there definitely isn't much angst to be found. Your reaction to Canto Ostinato I can definitely understand - a lot of the composer's music has a pseudo-naive tone which is essential to the way it works (each melodic transition has to make sense on its own as a "theme", the extent of the development between the themes is up to the performers). This risks making the music almost pointless, as you can skip to any point, listen, and enjoy it without hearing what has come before - but there is a benefit to the whole sweep. Something like this is a bit more busy, but it won't change your mind:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/wl5VGtEeUcI" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/wl5VGtEeUcI</a>

His solo piano works may be a little less objectionable, though:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/gjtfgXbmd0U" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/gjtfgXbmd0U</a>

I find the Soloduiveldans pieces to be an interesting compromise between his obsession with tone and interplay in the multiple piano works, and the realities of writing "straight" piano music. It comes across as a mix between Glass' tectonically slow transitions over a single narrative line, and the more strange post-minimalists with their bell sonority tinkerings and slabs of sound.
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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2011, 06:47:30 AM »
Some of Ten Holt's other pieces are more structured, but there definitely isn't much angst to be found. Your reaction to Canto Ostinato I can definitely understand - a lot of the composer's music has a pseudo-naive tone which is essential to the way it works (each melodic transition has to make sense on its own as a "theme", the extent of the development between the themes is up to the performers). This risks making the music almost pointless, as you can skip to any point, listen, and enjoy it without hearing what has come before - but there is a benefit to the whole sweep. Something like this is a bit more busy, but it won't change your mind:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/wl5VGtEeUcI" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/wl5VGtEeUcI</a>

His solo piano works may be a little less objectionable, though:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/gjtfgXbmd0U" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/gjtfgXbmd0U</a>

I find the Soloduiveldans pieces to be an interesting compromise between his obsession with tone and interplay in the multiple piano works, and the realities of writing "straight" piano music. It comes across as a mix between Glass' tectonically slow transitions over a single narrative line, and the more strange post-minimalists with their bell sonority tinkerings and slabs of sound.

I liked the piano piece better,... the first 20secs., before he modulates (I hate that Minimalism Modulation Syndrome,... almost as bad as some Classical Era stereotypes, or Serial stereotypes),... but yea, I like that constant motoric noodling, though, I would like some more articulated note values along with the more fuzzy note values,... or, any I saying more staccato along with the legato?

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Simeon ten Holt (1923-)
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2014, 02:35:13 PM »
Is any one of these better than the other? Or am I safe starting with either one?
I'm not totally new to ten Holt's music, but don't own anything as of now.