Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cage, more than 4:33 of silence

American composer John Cage (1912-1992) had the misfortune that his best known composition has gained such widespread notoriety that it overshadows everything else he has done. I am of course talking about the infamous 4:33, which consists of 273 seconds of listening to nothing special, just taking in background noise. I have several Cage CD's, and he really deserves more attention for his music than many give him. Perhaps his most important contribution is the creation of the prepared piano as an instrument: the piano sound changed by placing various objects in the strings. For my CD recommendation, I am going for that speciality. Naxos have released two excellent CD's with Cage's compositions for prepared piano. I am linking to the second, which I think is the best of the two, but the first is worthwhile as well. The music on this second disc covers a wide range of moods, from the ghostly Daughters of the Lonesome Isle to the aggressive And the Earth Shall Bear Again. Pianist Boris Berman does a great job in these less familiar pieces. Recommended to check it out.