Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Sixteen Dances

I have created a preliminary list of works reviewed so far.  I will slowly add links to them and eventually sort them by title, date, etc. for convenient reference.  This is a bit of a project/exam time for me so it will be a pretty lengthy process.  

Humorously, I discovered I reviewed A Book of Music twice!  I hope they are not completely different in the nature of my comments, or else that might imply that my reviewing is subjective...and I’m sure no one would ever think that...:-P

Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of Three
This work consists, obviously, of sixteen dances scored for flute, trumpet, piano, violin, cello and four percussionists.  It was written in 1951 and goes on for about an hour. Each dance has a specific title which, although I don’t have much other information about the work, presumably relates more to the dances it was written for than to the music performed, since the sounds seem chance-determined.    

Well, my first impressions are quite wrong, the music definitely does not seem completely chance determined, although it feels as if in certain pieces at certain points, the orchestra is governed by chance operations (particularly the wind instruments).  The work is composed of nine named dances with interludes between most of them; often, the interludes are more interesting than the named work.  The most interesting to my ears is certainly the last dance, called Tranquility, which features a large number of gong hits surrounded by randomness, which suggests a feeling of floating quietly in space.  The sound rumbles and continues for a very long time, something like the piano in Fourteen, but not as loud.  The eighth dance, which is one of the interludes, also is charming, with its light piano sounds.  Most of the more interesting music seems to be towards the latter half of the work.

Throughout most of the music, the piano plays sharp, forceful notes, punctuated by chords from the two wind instruments and strings which I might describe as, “miscellaneous” and not very significant, although it does have a sort of ‘modern’ feel to it, not as much like later Cage works.  That is, it feels colder and more precise than most of his music.    

I'm having trouble keeping up with your reviews, as I have hardly any Cage recordings at all. I read an interview with the musician Gary Wilson, a big fan of John Cage, who recommended the recording "Concert for Piano and Orchestra" with Cage/Tudor. Have you reviewed this one yet? If so, please point me to a link.
Dear Indeterminacy,

Have patience and also please read the preface to this project (1st post). The project will not be finished for quite some time. Cage wrote sooooooooo many pieces, of which "Concert for Piano and Orchestra" is only one.
I have not reviewed the Concert as of yet, but I'll be hearing the Mode recording which i believe has all the parts included at some point. It might be a little while--It's a major work and I like to sort of spread those out over time to maintain interest.

But there is obviously a need a need for an index of what's been seen so far...For now, the search box should work relatively well.

Glenn: OK, I'll be patient. I waited 7 years to finally find the Indetermiancy recording after reading a review of it in Rolling Stone Record guide. The mere description of it captured my imagination.
By the way, I took a brief look at your OrgreOgress project - it sounds quite interesting - I'll be back for a closer look.

Cageblogger: I'll keep stopping by.
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