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John Cage: As It Is / Natalia Pschenitschnikova, voice; Alexei Lubimov, piano

Album Summary

>Cage, John : Dream
>Cage, John : The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, for voice & closed piano
>Cage, John : The Unavailable Memory of, for prepared piano
>Cage, John : A Flower, for voice & closed piano
>Cage, John : Music for Marcel Duchamp, for prepared piano
>Cage, John : Experiences no 2, for voice
>Cage, John : A Room, for piano or prepared piano
>Cage, John : Three Songs, for voice & piano (Gertrude Stein)
>Cage, John : Pieces (2) for Piano [1946]
>Cage, John : Five Songs for Contralto, for voice and piano
>Cage, John : Prelude for Meditation, for prepared piano
>Cage, John : She is Asleep, for voice, prepared piano & 4 percussion
>Cage, John : Nowth upon Nacht, for voice & piano
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

A fresh approach to one of contemporary composition's most iconoclastic and inventive figures, issued on the occasion of John Cage's 100th birthday. Early Cage is the subject here, strikingly original songs and piano pieces from the 1930s and 1940s. Songs in which Cage set words by writers whose vision was as independent as his own - James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, E.E. Cummings. Piano pieces which evoke other worlds, and dreams. As Paul Griffifths writes, "The music exists in singing that has a raw, living edge, and it exists in piano tone that can be utterly simple and utterly remarkable. There is also a third presence that of the producer, bringing forward the extraordinary resonances that come from Lubimov's piano, with preparation or without. Recorded December 2011 in Zurich.

A fresh approach to one of contemporary composition's most iconoclastic and inventive figures, issued on the occasion of John Cage's 100th birthday. Early Cage is the subject here, strikingly original songs and piano pieces from the 1930s and 1940s. Songs in which Cage set words by writers whose vision was as independent as his own - James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, E.E. Cummings. Piano pieces which evoke other worlds, and dreams. As Paul Griffifths writes, "The music exists in singing that has a raw, living edge, and it exists in piano tone that can be utterly simple and utterly remarkable. There is also a third presence that of the producer, bringing forward the extraordinary resonances that come from Lubimov's piano, with preparation or without. Recorded December 2011 in Zurich.

The Guardian, August 2012
Nothing is generalised, and the performances by Lubimov and Pschenitschnikova take immense care over every nuance, without ever sacrificing any of the sense of the music's shape.

The Independent, September 2012
[Lubimov and Pschenitschnikova] have been performing his music since the time it outraged the Russian establishment in the '60s and '70s...The standout track...is "Dream" from 1948, a solo piano piece, which follows no overt narrative progression but drifts from note to note without ever sounding wilful or wrong.

American Record Guide, January/February 2013
The ECM release presents in the usual gorgeous sound a program of mostly early works. (The exception is the 1984 Nowth on Nacht.) Pschenitschnikova often sings with an almost straight tone and in a very emotionally uninflected style; her English diction, heavily inflected by Russian vowel sounds, serves to make the music sound even more exotic and rarefied than it actually is. (Some will enjoy that; I find it distracting. I wish all singers who sing American English sounded like Judith Bettina.) Hers, then, is a plausible way to perform Cage, but it warms my heart very little. (Robert White's more traditional sounding performance in the MSR release above of the Three Songs to Stein texts misses the mark as well; it sounds too much like Brahms.) Lubimov's playing has an understated verve, and ECM's engineers make the delicate prepared piano sounds very beautiful indeed. The opening selection, the piano work Dream, is offered again as the closing track; I'd rather have heard 8 more minutes of other Cage works. Verdict: the ideal recording of Cage's songs hasn't yet appeared, but this one is perfectly tolerable.

BBC Music Magazine, January 2013
Those who consider John Cage to be the king of chaos, ruling over a world of disconnected, random events, may be surprised by this wonderful CD...The recording presents great clarity and detail although sometimes spacious acoustics create unnecessary grandeur. Altogether, this is a crucial collection.

MusicWeb International, January 2013
Another marvellously atmospheric and deeply involving release from ECM New Series which, in its exploration of John Cage's opens up unexpected musical nuggets and provides context for his entire creative world.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Radio Studio DRS, Zürich (12/2011).



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Works Details

>Cage, John : Dream
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1948

>Cage, John : The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, for voice & closed piano
  • Performers: Natalia Pschenitschnikova (Flute); Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1942

>Cage, John : The Unavailable Memory of, for prepared piano
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1944

>Cage, John : A Flower, for voice & closed piano
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Natalia Pschenitschnikova (Flute); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1950

>Cage, John : Music for Marcel Duchamp, for prepared piano
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Film Score
  • Written: 1947

>Cage, John : Experiences no 2, for voice
  • Performers: Natalia Pschenitschnikova (Flute); Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1948

>Cage, John : A Room, for piano or prepared piano
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1943

>Cage, John : Three Songs, for voice & piano (Gertrude Stein)
  • Performers: Natalia Pschenitschnikova (Flute); Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1933

>Cage, John : Pieces (2) for Piano [1946]
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1946

>Cage, John : Five Songs for Contralto, for voice and piano
  • Performers: Natalia Pschenitschnikova (Flute); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1938

>Cage, John : Prelude for Meditation, for prepared piano
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1944

>Cage, John : She is Asleep, for voice, prepared piano & 4 percussion
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1943

>Cage, John : Nowth upon Nacht, for voice & piano
  • Performers: Natalia Pschenitschnikova (Flute); Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1985

>Cage, John : Dream
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Prepared Piano); Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1948