Western Vinyl (2023) US
In the fall of 2021, Simeon ten Holt's Canto Ostinato was reborn in a 'solo version for seven keyboards'. During the weeks leading up to the birth of his son Lark, Erik Hall moved methodically among the instruments in his recording studio, conducting a multi-track conversation with himself and the piece's score. Ten Holt composed Canto Ostinato between 1976 and 1979. The rhythmic motif (ostinato) repeated over its entire length has a limited number of printed notes. It is up to the performers how to play them, for how long, where to place accents, etc. In the score, the composer calls on musicians to interact and evaluate, to fuse sounds and colors into one cohesive musical universe. Then a cosmos is created. You can get lost in that. You want to get lost in that, like in the original live recording with four pianos.
"That performance is deeply compelling, almost otherworldly," says Hall. He has always been drawn to music that is based on repetition, harmonically rich, and tonal. He previously added a groundbreaking dimension to Steve Reich's 1976 minimal masterpiece Music for 18 Musicians, and– as again now with 'Canto'– his motivation is the love of the music itself. "When I first heard the piece, I was captivated." Then the plan emerged to undergo the same focused practice as before. He stacked seven total layers of his 1962 Hammond M-101 organ, a 1910 Steinway grand piano, and a 1978 Rhodes electric piano, each performance informed by those that preceded it. Erik Hall's Canto Ostinato lasts for one hour, and from the sheer joy of playing this wondrous composition emerges an elegantly meandering journey. In it, music rises above itself, higher and higher, like a lark jubilating freedom in the sky.