I have often mentioned the works of Ian Venables in this ‘blog’ – in my opinion he is one of the most vital composers of our time. The reason for this importance is, I guess, is the balance of his musical language. There are a number of trajectories at work in many of his compositions which include but are never limited to, English ‘pastoralism’, a largely traditional musical language that is not afraid of being dissonant and chromatic when appropriate and an innate ability to communicate his thoughts to the listener.
Ian has been kind enough to let me quote a number of paragraphs from his excellent website. All in all it is good to see him busy, being successful and adding to the store of fine music.
The opening concert at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival of Music saw the long awaited premiere of the composer’s chamber cantata Remember This Op.40. Commissioned by the Birmingham based ‘Limoges Trust’, the work is a setting of Sir Andrew Motion’s poem, which was written in 2002 to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The cantata was given its premiere by Allan Clayton (tenor), Caroline McPhie (soprano), The Elias String Quartet and Tom Poster (piano) and was recorded by the BBC. Remember This was enthusiastically received and Christopher Morley, music critic for the Birmingham Post wrote, “The music of … Ian Venables has never failed to grip the listener with its accessibility and ability to communicate, and its fearless use of a tonality we all understand. Frequently working through the vocal medium, his choice of poetic texts has found in him a response which illuminates the message, laying the words so naturally upon the singer, stretching the vocalist whilst never creating impossible demands. Its effect was spell-binding, not only thanks to the performances of the soloists….but also to the sheer quality of the music itself. Earlier we had heard MacPhie gloriously radiant in Faure’s La Bonne Chanson, and Clayton so compellingly controlled in Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge, a direct ancestor of what is certainly Venables’ masterpiece at this time”. The BBC recording of Remember This was broadcast on Radio 3 on the 24th August; on Bavarian Radio on the 10th September and most recently on Swedish Radio P2 on the 22nd November 2011. (See Reviews).
The main focus of 2012 will be the composition of a song cycle for the acclaimed baritone Roderick Williams. This work has been commissioned by the prestigious Malvern Concert Club, with generous financial assistance from Ernie Kaye. The new cycle is scored for string quartet and piano and is the composer’s first chamber work for the baritone voice. Although it is in its early stages, the principal linking subject through the cycle is a celebration of the poetry of ‘place’ and the poets of Worcestershire. For the work’s premiere in May 2013, Roderick Williams will be joined by the Carducci String Quartet and pianist Tom Poster.
On Christmas Day 2011, Ian Venables began work on a commission from Kenneth R. Prendergast of a song setting for mezzo- soprano and piano. This new song will receive its premiere in San Mateo, California in August 2012. It is a setting of Francis William Bourdillon's ' The night has a thousand eyes'.
Venables’ continuing association with Novello and Company will see the publication of his large scale choral work, Awake, awake, the world is young Op.34 which was commissioned in 1999 by Charlton Kings and Cirencester Choral Societies to celebrate the Millennium. Other works to be published this year by Novello include, On the Wings of Love Op.38; Elegy for ‘Cello and Piano Op.2 and the Three Pieces for Violin and Piano Op.11. (See Music Scores)