John Cage (1912-1992) was one of the most controversial composers of the 20th century. He is best known for his 1952 work 4'33" which involves not a single note of music being played. This selection of Cage's music provides a rare opportunity to get to know a range of works that were written between the years 1939-65, which were some of the composer's most productive years.
John Adams’ vast and varied output has earned him a wide audience, uncommon among contemporary classical composers. The works on this disc span his entire career to date, and illustrate his many different styles of writing for the piano. Phrygian Gates and China Gates – “gate” here referring to a type of electronic switch – could be regarded as his first “minimal” works, but are more tonal and expressive than the music of his contemporaries such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. As a teenager Adams had played clarinet in his father’s marching band, and his Hallelujah Junction reflects his love of …….From Naxos
Joshua Pierce brings to John Cage's music an almost uninhibited classicism, but that only bolsters the compositions. He opens A Room and emphasizes its shifts with the attention of a concert pianist, rather than someone who follows Cage's directions to play the piece very quietly. Pierce, in fact, takes each of these dozen works, all of them dating to the 1940s and '50s, and draws from them the resonant Cagean oddness—phrases of weird shapes and all. But he adds a ton, too. In a Landscape sounds almost wholeheartedly minimalist in its tone colors, and She Is Asleep sounds both drummerly (on the artfully flat prepared piano) and jazzy, with Jay Clayton dropping some scat vocals in ever so subtly. This is, after all, the period when Cage was discovering the closeness between percussion and motion, on the one hand, and percussion and the modified piano, on the other hand. So these pieces blurt out chunky phrases, build with shaded drama, and rumble delicately along. It's a difficult assessment making suggestions when it comes music so notoriously open to interpretation. But Pierce has played all the Cage piano and prepared-piano stuff, creating a Wergo series that any lover of the piano repertoire should own in full. Here, anyway, is an excellent introduction, perfect for the Cagean neophyte and still inventive enough to energize owners of Roaratorio or Frances Marie Uitti's Works for Cello.
This astonishing disc is possibly the best collection of John Cage's music now on the market. It covers the gamut of Cage's radicalism as well as his humor, and as such there is something for everyone (newbies included). Of particular delight here is Suite for Toy Piano (1948), which employs only the white keys in a single octave, and the beautifully orchestrated version that follows (done by Lou Harrison, a friend of Cage, in 1963). But three of Cage's absolute masterpieces—each totally different from the other—are also here: the eerie Seventy-Four (1992), the ballet score for The Seasons (1947) and the riveting Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1950-51). Everything you need to know about John Cage is right here.—Amazon.com
John Cage’s innovative work and unorthodox ideas profoundly affected Western music during the latter half of the 20th century, and this second of two volumes (volume 1 can be heard on Naxos 8.559773) concludes Katrin Zenz’s survey of his complete works for flute. The earlier chromatic compositions include an astonishing variety of playing techniques and a bewildering rhythmic complexity, while the elements of chance in the later works result in music that is always undergoing kaleidoscopic processes at once arbitrary and intensely focussed in form and expression.