Philip Venables Venables Plays Bach


When composer Philip Venables starts work, he usually plays Bach’s Little Prelude in D minor, BWV 940. He has been playing it since the age of fourteen, and plays by heart, but digresses from time to time, following a tangent that then lead in different directions.

To prepare the installation for the church of Saint-Eustache, the composer recorded himself every day for weeks, playing on an electronic keyboard and compiling what could be called a “sound log” of the work as it was being created. The idea of building the work and the composer’s conscious presence are central to the process, as “peregrinations of mind and music” filter through from the keyboard and his voice. In Venables Plays Bach a tangent can be detected forming a path to the composition of Numbers 81-85 and 96-100, works being written at the time of the recording. Some fifty small low-voltage speakers are placed throughout the church and play a non-stop loop of the recordings made on the day. The atmosphere is restful and conducive to listening and thinking. “There is the sound experience, but the work also explores the innermost levels of my personal rapport with the Bach prelude, and is a meditation on the act of composing.” Evening performances on the organ (October 8 and 15) will offer a response to and extension of the installation.