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Cage: Early Piano Music / Herbert Henck

Album Summary

>Cage, John : The Seasons, for piano
>Cage, John : Metamorphosis, for piano
>Cage, John : In a Landscape
>Cage, John : Ophelia
>Cage, John : Pieces (2) for Piano [ca 1935, rev 1974]
>Cage, John : Quest
>Cage, John : Pieces (2) for Piano [1946]
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"When one mentions Cage's early piano music, the first association is usually to the prepared piano works, and in particular the sonatas and interludes. But there is a wealth of work for traditional keyboard as well, and it constitutes some of his most attractive and surprising pieces... This stunning collection runs the gamut of the critical early phase of Cage's mature work, starting in 1935 with his serial pieces influenced by Schoenberg and ending just before the sonatas and interludes... Herbert Henck plays this music with near-perfect control and understanding... The sound is similarly clear but not overdone. This is a beautiful collection of important music, which will satisfy both the Cage expert and delight anyone interested in exploring his work but afraid to do so previously.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
The shock here is that this is simply piano music - no preparations, nothing played from the inside, every detail notated. In a Landscape, with a dozen recordings already, tops Cage's greatest hits. It was written for dance, can be played on harp or piano, and again exercises its uncanny, mesmeric powers in this performance by Herbert Henck, who takes it much more slowly than the marked tempo. But Henck's performances throughout are fastidious in representing every detail of the scores.

The longest work, The Seasons (1947), was a ballet for Lincoln Kirstein which, like the Sonatas and Interludes, shows Cage's interest in Indian philosophy before he moved on to Zen. At this period, perceptibly under the influence of Satie, Cage would assemble a collection of attractive sounds and then rotate them automatically, a procedure that became his trademark. The Two Pieces (1946) use some of the same autonomous sonorities as The Seasons in a different context.

Some of these early pieces are not linked to dance but stem from Cage's study with Schoenberg and his development of his own kind of row technique. Late in life Cage liked his early key- board pieces but found A Metamorphosis the least interesting. These are fascinating documents, well recorded, which bring this part of Cage's enormous output quite naturally into the mainstream of 20th-century piano music.

BBC Music Magazine
... Cage's notoriety was derived from his more overtly radical ideas, but he was equally capable of more subtle kinds of subversion. This sonically immaculate CD is packed with such eminently approachable, slightly puckish music which typifies Cage's work during the period, with Metamorphosis and Ophelia being further highlights. ...Henck is particularly adept at preserving the composer's unique musicality which is often over-sanitised by modern performance and production techniques.



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Works Details

>Cage, John : The Seasons, for piano
  • Performer: Herbert Henck (Piano)
  • Running Time: 15 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1947

>Cage, John : Metamorphosis, for piano
  • Performer: Herbert Henck (Piano)
  • Running Time: 15 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1938

>Cage, John : In a Landscape
  • Performer: Herbert Henck (Piano)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1948

>Cage, John : Ophelia
  • Performer: Herbert Henck (Piano)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1946

>Cage, John : Pieces (2) for Piano [ca 1935, rev 1974]
  • Performer: Herbert Henck (Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1935

>Cage, John : Quest
  • Performer: Herbert Henck (Piano)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1935

>Cage, John : Pieces (2) for Piano [1946]
  • Performer: Herbert Henck (Piano)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1946