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John Cage: Works for Two Keyboard, Vol. 2 - Music for Two; Three Dances / Pestova/Meyer Piano Duo

Album Summary

>Cage, John : Music for...
>Cage, John : Three Dances, for 2 prepared amplified pianos
Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

John Cage's practicality transformed the piano into a full percussion orchestra and a workbench for sonic experiment. Three Dances is one of his most ambitious prepared piano works. Music for Two includes bowed piano techniques to create shifting tapestries of subtle expression, making for some of the most exquisite and moving chamber music of the late 20th century. The second of a three volume series; Volume 1 can be found on Naxos 8.559726.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Espace Découverte, Philharmonie Luxembourg (12/18/2012-12/19/2012).



Reviews

Very interesting at least even now
The works for prepared piano by John Cage have always been niche curiosities. Virtually all of Cage's music remains controversial and is still seen as the product of a highly creative and iconoclastic personality writing during some of the country's most turbulent times. However, his many, many piano works do also remain as some of Cage's most "accessible" and easy to listen to scores. This is a very well done volume two of these pieces by the very talented and knowledgeable Xenia Pestova and Pascal Meyer. The Music for Two is the more abstract and static of these two works. It moves very slowly and in hard to anticipate fashion. There are plenty moments of silence - which, for Cage, was a valid and necessary compositional tool - and the chords are at times punctuated utterances and at other times are drawn out through pedals and through bowed interior. The piece is structured aurally vertically but one has to really study Cage to see the horizontal implication. It is a very zen-like sparse sounding work but one that you may find quite intriguing. Cage's Three Dances for prepared pianos is a whole different matter. There is ample forward momentum here and, thanks to Cage's very precise instructions for the prepared interior - which include what types of materials and hardware and even what node on what string to place the objects - the sound is like a Gamelan ensemble. I have always these works among Cage's most interesting and most thought provoking. Cage has created a template score "Music for...." over 1984-1987 and intended the score to be playable as almost any combination of instruments in almost any amount. His "Dances" are part of a series of works that intentionally echo the music of various cultures and are, therefore, sort of inherently captivating. In fact, on first listen you may not realize you are listening to pianos. Whether John Cage (who I had the pleasure of corresponding with a bit many years ago) will be remembered in the history of Western art as a composer or as a theorist/philosopher or not at all is quite a separate discussion. I think this particular disc will definitely appeal to those already aware of his music; these pieces in particular may appeal to a wider collective - in particular the charming and propulsive Three Dances. Pestova and Meyer are strong players with a clear affinity for modern music. I would like to hear more from them!
Submitted on 05/05/14 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Cage, John : Music for...
  • Ensemble: Pestova-Meyer Piano Duo
  • Notes: Espace Découverte, Philharmonie Luxembourg (12/18/2012-12/19/2012)
  • Running Time: 29 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1984

>Cage, John : Three Dances, for 2 prepared amplified pianos
  • Ensemble: Pestova-Meyer Piano Duo
  • Notes: Espace Découverte, Philharmonie Luxembourg (12/18/2012-12/19/2012)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1945