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The Art of David Tudor (1963-1992); Tudor, Cage, Wolff; David Tudor, John Cage

Notes & Reviews:

The sprawling electronic music career of David Tudor (1926 - 1996) may be impossible to adequately represent with any set of recordings. The reasons for this are several. First, Tudor's art was about live performance. The majority of unreleased Tudor recordings as found in various archives are mainly documents of live performances, and are radical reductions of his performance practice. Any multi-channel concert situation is reduced to two channels for home listening, thus we must wonder exactly what perspective we are listening from. Also, many live recordings from Cunningham performances (particularly in the 1980s and 90s) were made directly from the mixing board, bypassing the acoustics of the performance space altogether. In a live situation, Tudor would pay close attention to the resonances of the venue; any recording which does not acknowledge the space is lacking a critical dimension. Another limitation in documenting Tudor's performance practice is the fact that every performance was unique: way stations along a continuum. This suggests that reliance on any one recording as the definitive document of a piece may be mistaken. Still, we can't have a comprehensive experience of all performances of any particular work, so we make do - and with the present collection we do quite well, listening to high-quality recordings curated by Tudor's colleagues and offered in their entirety rather than as excerpts. This is important: Tudor's performances tend to evolve slowly, so a short excerpt can give only a limited view on the work. Here we have full performances lasting half an hour or even longer. Tudor's identity morphed seamlessly from interpreter of mainly acoustic music to composer-performer of predominately electronic music over a period of about ten years, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. This set of seven CDs goes beyond any previous attempt to document that process of transformation. It captures his touch and sensitivity and offers an expansive, previously unavailable view onto more than three decades of Tudor's astonishingly original work as an electronic musician.


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