Thursday, December 15, 2005



Alright, check out the new review list; I reorganized it totally alphabetically, made a few corrections (adding a few extra versions of a few pieces that are around) and most importantly, I have added the recordings used for each review.  I’ve used a wider variety than I thought I did, in fact!  

I’ve decided to add some ratings, as a helpful tool for new listeners to Cage to answer the question, “what should I hear first?”  I’ve basically broken it down into stuff anyone who like music should hear, stuff anyone interested specifically in 20th century music should hear, stuff that probably only Cage aficionados would like, and then...the other stuff, like certain early works featuring three dopey songs for voice and piano....

I think if a Complete Cage box set were ever released, it should include readings of all of his lectures and poetry.  I would go so far as to say this might be a key project as far as recordings of Cage’s work go in any context.  I’d especially enjoy hearing a complete reading of all of the Indeterminacy-like stories floating around Silence.  

Speaking of Cage’s poetry, here are some works completely unrelated to it.

Hymnkus has a bunch of parts for various winds, voice, percussion, accordion, piano, violin and cello.  Fourteen parts in total; it was written in 1986.  The work involves repeated verses of seventeen events.  My recording has the saxophones, percussion, accordion, and piano.  From this the style of the work shines through pretty well.  Generally speaking, the music is like a number piece in texture, but with much shorter events overall.  I’m afraid I can’t directly hear the repetitions as I listen for them, but maybe someone with more careful ears could.

The music comes from Etcetera and as a result sounds rather similar.  But maybe that’s just the beginning of one of the parts and they decided to start later than the others, or maybe I just missed it previously.  I believe all the notes are played within a small range on all the instruments, which is readily apparent since the piano seems to be playing the same basic tones over and over again even if I can’t hear a pattern in the ordering really.

Basically I’m not really enthusiastic about the music, although it’s kind of neat that everyone is basically playing the same notes.  It doesn’t evoke any strong feelings for me.  Maybe I’d enjoy a different performance more, with more instruments.  

This is a microtonal violin arrangement of Solo 85 from Song Books and is based on a Satie which is probably not microtonal itself.  The music comes to us from 1978.  The music is primarily a fairly high pitched whine, in several parts.  It’s frankly a pretty malevolent sound, and I do not feel very comfortable listening to it.  I like it, still, because it’s so haunting and strange.  I’d like to hear this on a late night road trip I think, past abandoned farmhouses and towering dark trees...I t sounds like regular violin music, just off somehow.  I’m not sure what a haikai is though.

Haikai for flute and zoomoozophone
This is sixteen microtonal duets.  The zoomoozophone is a wacky aluminum-tube based instrument.  Needless to say, this one isn’t recorded too often!  It sounds oriental, but I’m the first to admit I have no idea what I mean by that.  The flute produces clean wind tones, very soft and comforting, like leaves fluttering by.  I hear the zoomoozophone ‘ding’ occasionally, but surprisingly, not all that often.  It produces a quick, light sound, which seems almost as airy as the flute.  

It’s a light work, nice and atmospheric.  It should surely be recorded more often.  Maybe there aren’t many zoomoozophone players out there, or maybe it’s just too annoying to type on liner notes...?

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