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Program 514: Minimalist Piano Preludes

KALW Broadcast Date: May 4, 2018 | Host: Richard Friedman

It was Michael Nyman who first used the term minimalist in the late 60s to describe the music of Cornelius Cardew. He later described the term to include “any music that works with limited or minimal materials… that maybe uses only a few notes … or that slows the tempo down to two or three notes per minute.”

Piano Preludes have been with us for a very long time, perhaps starting with Bach and his 24, each based on a unique key. But Bach’s Preludes were preludes to fugues. Recently, composers have turned to writing just Preludes… preludes to nothing. Maybe they’re more like Etudes … I don’t know. The neat thing is that Preludes have sequential numbers, avoiding the need for flighty titles that don’t mean much. So that’s good.

We begin with Jeroen van Veen’s 24 Minimal Preludes. Like Bach’s, each is in a different key. Van Veen is renowned in Europe as a pianist specializing in minimalist and avant-garde music, with many recordings, especially of Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Simeon ten Holt. And, clearly, his own Preludes have been heavily influenced by the music he champions so often.

We start the program with his Prelude #8, followed by four more from the 24 Minimal Preludes for Piano performed by the composer, Jeroen van Veen.

The young Colombian composer living in Brooklyn, Julian de la Chica, presents a very different approach to minimalism with his 14 Preludes Opus 8. These contrast greatly from what we just heard, and lean dangerously towards being new-agey, were not for the compelling performance by incomparable Lisa Moore in this new release. Here are five of the 14 preludes of Julian de la Chica, performed by Lisa Moore with the composer assisting on synthesizer, and also providing a second pair of hands on piano in one of them.

This is on a just released CD from Irreverence Group Music. We hope to hear more from this young composer.

Program Audio

30-Second Spot

Track Info & Links

Title: Prélude Nr. 8 In F# Minor; Prélude Nr. 14 In E Flat Minor; Prélude Nr. 16 In B Flat Minor; Prélude Nr. 17 In A Flat; Prélude Nr. 18 In F Minor
Composer: Jeroen van Veen
Performers: Jeroen van Veen, piano
Recording Title: Minimal Piano Collection, Volumes I-IX
Record Label: Brilliiant Classics
Catalog Number: 8551


Title: Preludes, Op. 8: No. 6, 7, 10, 12, 13
Composer: Julian de la Chica
Performers: Lisa Moore, piano
Recording Title: Lisa Moore – de la Chica, Preludes Opus 8
Record Label: Irreverence Group Music
Catalog Number: IGM-018

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