Adams, Piano Music
Composer: John Adams
Title: Solo Piano Music
Performer: Jeroen van Veen
Adams, J: China Gates
Adams, J: Phrygian Gates for solo piano
Adams, J: American Berserk (2001)
Adams, J: Hallelujah Junction *
Jeroen van Veen (piano)
* with Sandra van Veen
Piano music spanning three decades by the foremost living Minimalist composer of our time. John Adams has won listeners from far beyond the traditional classical world thanks to his energy over the course of more than half a century in writing music that speaks directly to hearts and minds with undiminished energy, reflecting contemporary concerns and technologies while also crafted with traditional finesse. As well as a composer he has been an active promoter and performer – not only of his own music but of his contemporaries and those who exercised a decisive influence on him as a student in California, including Debussy and Stravinsky. His parents wereboth jazz musicians and he grew up in a household where, as he says, ‘Benny Goodman and Mozart were not separated’. There is a corresponding harmony between traditional and modern idioms in his own music. Both written in 1977, Phrygian Gates and its briefer pendant or companion, China Gates, were game-changers for the course of Adams’s music. Although his output for the instrument is not large, it was with the piano that Adams discovered the possibilities of slowly moving, patterned textures that had already seized his attention in the compositions of Steve Reich. Phrygian Gates is a broad monolithic arch, roughly 24 minutes long, which is built upon a plan that resembles the classic ‘tour’ of the twelve keys, while entirely confined to the Lydian and Phrygian modes of ancient music. The Lydian mode with its light, sensual, resonant personality is played off against the more volatile, unstable but often heroic qualities of the Phrygian. From almost 20 years later, Hallelujah Junction takes its name from a truck stop near the composer’s cabin. Scored for two pianos, this continuous quarter-hour takes a tour d’horizon of Adams’s own journey as a composer: at first ingeniously Minimalist, growing into a Romantic central section before coming around to a jazzy conclusion of unstoppable momentum. American Berserk (2001) sounds more ‘modern’ still, but its rhythmic complexities look back to American masters such as Ives and Nancarrow.
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)