Friday, December 02, 2005



I have updated the review index to include links to all posts from October!  I hope it’s useful.  

Here’s a nice long recording to make up for a missing day or two.  The CageMap has been abandoned, in case anyone hadn’t noticed, at least until I can figure out how to get Excel to make me a less time-consuming and less arbitrary version!  I have a plan in mind, but I’ll have to teach myself a bit more Excel to get it working.  I’m not sure what I’ll do tonight yet; I’m thinking a collection of the very earliest of early works would be good, even though no one is very fond of them I don’t think.  If anyone’s a fan of them post a comment!  

Question for the day: If 0’00” is considered music, and its performance instructions require that the obligation fufilled not be playing music, can it ever be performed?

Thanks to Lothar for a recording of this work.  It takes up an entire CD and features one loud organ.  Nothing rattles my bones quite like organ music turned up at high volume here, and the ambience and strange, groaning chords of this music made it all the more terrifying.  The pieces are played with a variety of registers, some so low they make my living room rattle.  The higher sounds tend to be less chilling and more mysterious.  The piece is played so slowly, filling up a good 80 minutes, that it has become a number piece, I’d say.  What I think is the best part is the nature of this organ—as pieces are played and the sound fades slightly, the pitch changes, so there are often chords with this lovely, groaning effect in some of their component notes that resemble a voice crying out, then dropping in pitch as it disappears...Rather frightening, actually.

An unusual aspect of this recording is that the different pieces are recorded from different performances of the whole work at different parts of the day.  The intend was to give a “flavor” of what the 600-something year performance on the organ in Halberstadt will sound like, because you hear a wide array of background noises—automobiles, sometimes and best of all the sound of wind, trees, rain and thunder in one of the recordings.  This is great ambient music, especially given the cold weather here; it somehow seems appropriate for winter.  Heh, and the lowest of the low notes remind me I need to buy some better speakers!

This performance of the work includes all the parts, with one repetition of part V at the end, as Cage specified (a little different than the piano version, where he calls for a replacement in the middle of the work).  I’m not sure what my thoughts on the Halberstadt performance are; it seems perhaps a little too much intended to be shocking (“How can you make a 600 year concert!?”) and might be impractical.  But, perhaps in a few hundred years I will be proven wrong...    

0'00" reiterates that everything we do and everything around is music. again maybe even erases the notion of music altogether. cage shows us that it is more important to listen and do.
0'00" demonsrates that music becomes MUSIC only at the point we decide to hear it, record it, or perform it as MUSIC. put another way ... everything is music but only we can make everything into MUSIC.
but is everything good music?
Though the Halberstadt concept may seem "fishy" in one way or another, it's still "Cage" IMO (no more or less than other "unorthodox" realizations of Cage works). And it helps them rebuild their beautiful church & organ.

But, of course, the recording of "Organ2/ASLSP" is made on another, complete instrument. And everything Zac says about the sound of the basses is true... some of the most impressive bass sounds I've ever heard on a recording.
cage took satie's vexations instructions literally, so the halberstadt organ installation takes cage's ASLSP instructions literally too.

most of the ASLSP recordings ive heard have not been slow enough in my opinion.

how slow is 'as slow as possible'?
I agree, the piano version I heard was not especially slow (although my analysis in the blog suggested it was, nonetheless, pretty slow).

I guess what is possible depends on the situation the work creates. For example, if the work had been written for a single pianist, obviously a performance lasting more than a lifetime would not be possible.

Speaking of Vexations:

One guy in Germany played the entire thing over the course of 28 hours. You can even theoretically get a recording! The associated paper mentions and criticizes Cage's performance.

It's remarkably hard to find a recording of even part of it, actually. It tends to go by a different name and is usually stuck with two other pieces I can never remember :-/
"Vexations" is a part of the "Pages Mystiques".

The Great Learning Orchestra from Sweden actually played a 24-hour ensemble version of "Vexations", with players shifting in & out of the performance (look for more details on Ingvar "Loco" Nordin's homepage) .

There's a vinyl LP from 1983 (Philips), with pianist Reinbert de Leeuw playing the "Vexations" 35 times. It was part of series of records. I don't know for sure, but it might actually have been reissued on CD.
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