Van Veen, 24 Minimal Preludes
Composer: Jeroen van Veen
Title: 24 Minimal Preludes
Performer: Jeroen van Veen
12 minimal Preludes, Book I (2003)
Jeroen van Veen (1969)
01 05:40 Minimal Prélude nr.1 in C
02 04:00 Minimal Prélude nr.2 in A minor
03 04:38 Minimal Prélude nr.3 in G
04 04:23 Minimal Prélude nr.4 in E minor
05 03:24 Minimal Prélude nr.5 in D
06 03:47 Minimal Prélude nr.6 in B minor
07 01:04 Minimal Prélude nr.7 in A
08 02:40 Minimal Prélude nr.8 in F# minor
09 05:01 Minimal Prélude nr.9 in E
10 07:19 Minimal Prélude nr.10 in C# minor
11 05:52 Minimal Prélude nr.11 in B
12 05:03 Minimal Prélude nr.12 in G# minor
playing time CD I 52'58"
Jeroen van Veen, piano
12 minimal Preludes, Book II (2004)
Jeroen van Veen (1969)
01 06:53 Minimal Prélude nr.13 in F#
02 05:18 Minimal Prélude nr.14 in Eb minor
03 02:36 Minimal Prélude nr.15 in Db
04 02:56 Minimal Prélude nr.16 in Bb minor
05 04:34 Minimal Prélude nr.17 in Ab
06 10:39 Minimal Prélude nr.18 in F minor
07 03:23 Minimal Prélude nr.19 in Eb
08 04:13 Minimal Prélude nr.20 in C minor
09 04:37 Minimal Prélude nr.21 in Bb
10 06:04 Minimal Prélude nr.22 in G minor
11 06:07 Minimal Prélude nr.23 in F
12 09:54 Minimal Prélude nr.24 in D minor
playing time CD II 67'20"
Jeroen van Veen, piano
The history of the Prelude goes back to Johan Sebastian Bach. He was the first composer to write 24 preludes and fugues in all 12 Major and 12 Minor keys. The prelude, literally foreplay, to the masterpiece of polyphony, the fugue.
It was Chopin who made the prelude as a piece that would stand by itself. Many composers followed the idea: Claude Debussy, Alexander Scriabin and Sergei Rachmaninoff. I composed the 24 preludes in the books, Book I has number 1-12 and Book II 13-24, Following Chopin’s order of keys. 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 very minimalistic point of view, less is more. What I didn't realize that the pieces inspired many people, I got email's and letters from artists working with my music. Writers who were inspired during their process, artists who made paintings on the minimal preludes, several films were made using some preludes, choreographers like Doulgas Lee and Itzik Galili used it to build a ballet and in 2015 I was asked to work with Luk Perceval and Toneelgroep Amsterdam for a production where he selected the Minimal Preludes for a play.
All the preludes can be played separately, and they contain a lot of freedom. Some Preludes are just a few ‘Lego bricks’ that can be repeated or even constructed in any order. A good example of this composition is number 18. Book I was composed in 2003 and Book II in the succeeding year. They were premiered in Theatre De Schalm, Veldhoven The Netherlands, at June 5th in 2005 by me. It has been recorded and released previously on Brilliant Classics, Minimal Piano Collection Cd 8551.
As a child I listened enchantedly to Igor Stravinsky’s Sacre de Printemps for four pianos. The score for this particular rendition was not available and my piggy bank contained too little allowance to buy the four-piano sheet music, so I started writing down the piece myself. These invaluable childhood years were well-spent on solfège practice and learning about harmony, skills I happily apply in my daily work. In addition to writing down the Sacre, playing piano concert cadences and improvising on a basis of simple chords has helped me a lot in becoming a proficient composer. But the best preceptor was my teacher in harmony at Utrecht Conservatory: Wim Witteman; he could bring music to its essence.
Both colleagues and teachers questioned my preference for minimal music. Not the future, they thought. I was utterly convinced that repetitive tonal music had very much future potential. I am also attracted to the required interaction among the performers in musical works from composers like Simeon ten Holt. It creates variation for both the performers and the audience!
Throughout the years I have always continued to write music without subsidiaries, for I felt obligated to do so. After the first series of “24 minimal preludes”, written between 1999 and 2004, I continued to work on this series. Furthermore I composed solo, duo and four-hand pieces for piano, pieces for piano in combination with either organ, Hang, voice or carillon, pieces for prepared pianos, and various ensemble-pieces. Some of these 100+ compositions are performed globally by many performers, most of which can be heard in the media regularly.
Besides some other pieces, this new cd-box contains follow-up pieces of the minimal preludes. My style is characterized by a specific layering of time signatures like 5/8, 7/8,11/8 and 13/8. All works I compose with the distinct physical qualities of the instrument in mind. I frequently call my works lego music because it is composed of many individual components, or “bricks” as it were. The idea behind this is to create variation. lego refers to the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which means “to play well.” Many motives reappear in various works, like lego bricks in lego structures do. Even though my music has both a melodic and rhythmic component, there is the absence of a typically Western musical development. Rather, the performers play key part in deciding what will piece will sound like in the end. I hope you’ll enjoy listening to the Minimal Preludes as much as I enjoyed creating it!
© Jeroen van Veen
translation: Joeri van Veen
Jeroen van Veen
Jeroen Van Veen (1969) started playing the piano at the age of 7. He studied at the Utrecht Conservatory with Alwin Bär and Håkon Austbö. In 1993 he passed the Performing Artists' Exam. Van Veen has played with orchestras conducted by Howard Williams (Adams), Peter Eötvös (Zimmermann), Neal Stulberg (Mozart & Bartok) and Robert Craft (Stravinsky). He has played recitals in Europe, Russia, Canada & the USA. Van Veen attended master classes with Claude Helffer, Roberto Szidon, Ivan Klánsky and Leonid Hambro. He was invited to several festivals; Reder Piano Festival (1988), Festival der Kunsten in Bad Gleichenberg (1992), Wien Modern (1993), Holland Dance Festival (1998, 2010) Lek Art Festival (1996-2007). Van Veen recorded for major Dutch Radio- and Television companies like AVRO, NOS, IKON, NCRV, TROS/Internet, WTBC-TV & Radio (Florida, U.S.A.) and Moscow Television. In 1992, Van Veen recorded his first CD as Piano duo Van Veen. In 1995 Piano duo Van Veen made their debut in the United States. They were prizewinners in the prestigious 4th International Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition in Miami, Florida. After this achievement they toured the United States and Canada many times. The documentary "Two Pianos One Passion" (nominated with an Emmy Award 1996) portrays them as a duo.
The various compositions by Van Veen may be described as Minimal Music with different faces, Crossovers to Jazz, Blues, Soundscape, Avant-Garde, Techno, Trance and Pop Music. His Minimal Preludes for piano, and his NLXL are some of his most played pieces worldwide. His latest Minimal Piano Concerto Continuum was a great success. In 2015 he premiered his Incanto nr 2 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with Sandra van Veen.
Currently Mr. Van Veen is director of Van Veen Productions, Chairman of the Simeon ten Holt Foundation, Pianomania Foundation and artistic director of several music festivals. He is also active as Overseas Artistic Director in the Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition based in Miami. Over the last 25 years Van Veen recorded more than 150 CD’s and 5 DVD’s, mostly for Brilliant Classics. His discography includes: Adams, Einaudi, Glass, JacobTV, Minimal Piano Collections, Nyman, Pärt, Reich, Riley, Stravinsky, Tiersen, Ten Holt, Van Veen, Yiruma and many others. Van Veen is also praised for his productivity some say; ‘the man who records faster than his shadow’.
“Dutch pianist and composer, Jeroen van Veen, the leading exponent of minimalism today”, Alan Swanson (Fanfare)
"Jeroen van Veen has for many years been a powerhouse in the piano world of the Netherlands and beyond", Dominy Clements ( Musicweb-International)
"The Maximal Minimalist Missionary", Raymond Tuttle (Fanfare)
Fazioli Grand Piano, 278 m.
Piano supplied by Evert Snel, Werkhoven
Piano technician: Evert Snel.
Produced by: Van Veen Productions for Brilliant Classics
Executive Producer: Jeroen Van Veen
Engineered by: Jeroen van Veen
Recorded on ADAT, 8 tracks on 24 bits, 48 KHz.
Scores: Jeroen van Veen
Software: Pro Tools & Samplitude
Recording location: Barbara Church, Culemborg
Recording dates: October 27rd – 28th (2006)