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John Cage: 'Aria'; Fontana Mix; A Chant with Claps; Sonnekus2; Eight Whiskus; A Flower; Experiences No. 2 / Nicholas Isherwood, bass baritone

Album Summary

>Cage, John : Work(s)
>Cage, John : A Chant with Claps, for chanter & hand-claps
>Cage, John : Sonnekus2, for voice solo
>Cage, John : Eight Whiskus, for solo voice
>Cage, John : A Flower, for voice & closed piano
>Cage, John : The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, for voice & closed piano
>Cage, John : Nowth upon Nacht, for voice & piano
>Cage, John : Experiences no 2, for voice
>Cage, John : Ryoanji, for voice, flute, oboe, trombone, contrabass, percussion, chamber orchestra & 2nd voice ad
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Nicholas Isherwood made his début as Lucifer in Stockhausen's Donnerstag aus Licht at Covent Garden, at the age of 25, and has since collaborated closely with composers such as George Crumb, Hans Werner Henze, György Kurtág and Iannis Xenakis. His initial exposure to the music of John Cage left him less than convinced, but after corresponding with Cage, Isherwood acquired a taste for it - something which soon developed into what he in his liner notes to the disc calls 'a love affair'. He has become a highly respected Cage interpreter, and the composer Sylvano Bussotti has remarked that 'since the passing of Cathy Berberian, Nicholas Isherwood is the singer who best understands the spirit of the music of John Cage'. On ARIA, Isherwood presents most of Cage's music for solo voice that is not included in the composer's Song Books, and most pieces are here recorded for the first time by a male singer. The program covers 43 years, from A Chant with Claps from the early 1940s to Ryoanji and Sonnekus2 of the 1980s, and includes the celebrated Aria, here performed with a new multi-channel tape realization of Cage's Fontana Mix, by the Italian composer Gianluca Verlingieri. In three of the songs (A Flower, The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs and Nowth Upon Nacht) Isherwood accompanies himself on a closed piano, tapping on the lid in the first two, and slamming it down on the keys in the third. Ryoanji - named after the famous rock garden in Kyoto and described by Cage as 'a garden of sounds' - is a central work in Cage's production, and exists in several versions. Here it is heard for voice and percussion, performed by Isherwood with the use of a crystal wine glass.

The Guardian, 18th June 2015
Isherwood says it took him a long time to appreciate the music of John Cage, but you'd never guess...this collection is affectionate and forthright, meticulous when it matters and generally great fun. Isherwood's voice is rich, clear and lyrical; the same delivery would suit a disc of American folk ballads.

American Record Guide, November/December 2015

American Record Guide, November/December 2015
Nicholas Isherwood offers authoritative and virtuosic performances of both familiar and lesser-known Cage vocal works... he performs the whole rather formally and never for laughs, but neither is he cold or clinical. His diction is clear and easily understandable, the vocal tone unforced and resonant. I particularly enjoy the vocal realization of Ryoanji, where the singer must perform elegant microtonal curves alongside... mesmerizing music. This is a must have.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Hofstelle Flammer, Küsten, Germany (05/2014).



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Works Details

>Cage, John : Work(s) :: Aria with Fontana Mix
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1932-1992

>Cage, John : A Chant with Claps, for chanter & hand-claps
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: by 1950

>Cage, John : Sonnekus2, for voice solo
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1985

>Cage, John : Eight Whiskus, for solo voice
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1985

>Cage, John : A Flower, for voice & closed piano
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1950

>Cage, John : The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, for voice & closed piano
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1942

>Cage, John : Nowth upon Nacht, for voice & piano
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1985

>Cage, John : Experiences no 2, for voice
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1948

>Cage, John : Ryoanji, for voice, flute, oboe, trombone, contrabass, percussion, chamber orchestra & 2nd voice ad
  • Performer: Nicholas Isherwood (Bass Baritone)
  • Notes: Composition written: 1983-85.
  • Running Time: 20 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1983-1985