Jeroen van Veen: 24 Minimal Preludes

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In these 24 preludes, spread over two books of equal length, Jeroen van Veen has been inspired by the key-order of Chopin, the piano-techniques of Franz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninoff, the polyrhythmic textural layering of Philip Glass, the sound of Simeon ten Holt and the rhythms of Steve Reich, all governed by the guiding principle of less is more.

The preludes are highly representative examples of van Veen’s ‘Lego-brick’ aesthetic. The idea behind this is to create variation. Lego refers to the Danish phrase ‘leg godt’, which means ‘to play well’. Complexity is lent to such simple materials by the layering of irregular and compound time-signatures such as 5/8, 7/8, 11/8 and 13/8. Many motives reappear in various works, like Lego bricks in Lego structures do. Some Preludes such as No.18 are just a few ‘Lego bricks’ that can be repeated or even constructed in any order.

Since they were written in 2003-4, these simple preludes have inspired film-makers and artists in their own works; they have also provided the score to a ballet. After the success of Jeroen van Veen’s many recordings of minimal piano music for Brilliant Classics, this new release is sure to receive attention in the press. Most recently he recorded the complete piano works of Erik Satie in time for the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. His previous recording of the Preludes was well-received by the American Record Guide: ‘Veen’s own Minimal Piano Preludes, which take up two discs of the collection, are a must-have… his performances are more technically polished and conventionally musical: the music breathes.’

The Prelude, originally a short, often quasi-improvised, introduction to a work of larger proportions, gained in the course of musical history a new form, developing into a separate and free structure in which the composer lets his imagination free reign. Jeroen van Veen, champion of Minimal Music, about his own Preludes: “composed in a major and minor keys in the order of Chopin’s Preludes the basic idea was to see if I would limit myself to just a few chords and techniques if I could create different works. Of course I was inspired by the great classical masters; I tried to combine the order of Chopin, the piano-techniques by Franz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninoff, the polyrhythmic by Philip Glass, the sound of Simeon ten Holt and the rhythms of Steve Reich. Each piece has its own character, starting from a minimalistic point of view: less is more.

00:00:00 Minimal Prélude No. 1 in C Major
00:05:40 Minimal Prélude No. 2 in A Minor
00:09:41 Minimal Prélude No. 3 in G Major
00:14:19 Minimal Prélude No. 4 in E Minor
00:18:42 Minimal Prélude No. 5 in D Major
00:22:07 Minimal Prélude No. 6 in B Minor
00:25:55 Minimal Prélude No. 7 in A Major
00:27:00 Minimal Prélude No. 8 in F-Sharp Minor
00:29:40 Minimal Prélude No. 9 in E Major
00:34:41 Minimal Prélude No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor
00:42:00 Minimal Prélude No. 11 in B Major
00:47:52 Minimal Prélude No. 12 in G-Sharp Minor
00:52:56 Minimal Prélude No. 13 in F-Sharp Major
00:59:49 Minimal Prélude No. 14 in E-Flat Minor
01:05:07 Minimal Prélude No. 15 in D-Flat Major
01:07:43 Minimal Prélude No. 16 in B-Flat Minor
01:10:39 Minimal Prélude No. 17 in A-Flat Major
01:15:14 Minimal Prélude No. 18 in F Minor
01:25:53 Minimal Prélude No. 19 in E-Flat Major
01:29:17 Minimal Prélude No. 20 in C Minor
01:33:30 Minimal Prélude No. 21 in B-Flat Major
01:38:08 Minimal Prélude No. 22 in G Minor
01:44:13 Minimal Prélude No. 23 in F Major
01:50:20 Minimal Prélude No. 24 in D Minor
02:00:14 Minimal Preludes, Book III: Prelude No. 25 in A Minor (Bonus Track)

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