Aureole etc.




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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

JOHN CAGE (1912-1992)
ONE 6
(13:40+15:35+17:35)
ONE10
(24:30)
  Christina Fong (violin)
world premiere recordings
OGREOGRESS PRODUCTIONS OG004
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Now THIS is minimalist music. Forget Reich, Nyman and Adams as minimalists. Cage has them all beat. He even trounces his own Sonatas and Interludes recently glowingly recorded by Boris Berman on Naxos 8.559042. The Sonatas and Interludes represent one of King Ludwig's winter palaces (a cornucopia of extravagant excess) by the side of the music on this disc. The titles, which are correctly shown above, are minimal. The forces could hardly be less (a solo violin) although Cage's famous 4'33" is an approach to minimalism. The packaging is a single ultra-slim jewel case and there are no printed notes (they appear on the disc) although I was provided with a programme note and other background material for an event when these two works were played simultaneously with another Cage piece ONE11 - a film in which there are no people, only light.

During his last half-decade John Cage wrote about 45 works which carry a number in their title. These were often just a number with a further number in superscript looking rather like a number expressed to the power of another number. Not for Cage an autumnal or even wintry return to (or even discovery!) of lush romance.

The music comprises as much silence as it does musical notes. Both pieces (a three movement piece and a single movement piece) are a series of single long-held notes played with husky concentration by Christina Fong (a member of the Grand Rapids SO since 1988 and a dedicated advocate of new music - http://christinafong.com). Decorative display has been expelled completely. Elaboration comes only in the slight cycling of the held notes and the very infrequent double-stopping of sustained notes. Those long-held notes have a clarion quality and listened to intently melt and resolve from the steady (non-vibrato) tone of a string instrument into a suggestion of Tibetan lamasery horns calling from dizzy heights to the evocation of Scandinavian lur cries from Nordic fjords. Percy Grainger would have loved this. Listening to this music is like hearing a single vocal strand from the complex of lines which make the great wheeling incantatory chant of Cornelius Cardew's The Great Learning (try Paragraph VII as performed by the Scratch Orchestra).

The works date from Cage's very last years and are little known. It is to Ms Fong's credit that she has leant her artistry to this enterprise. You must be prepared for this music. It is not richly detailed. It benefits from intense meditation. Not for everyone then but certainly for those who would like to open a casement on avant-garde simplicity. Such people could hardly make a better start with this disc.

Reviewer

Rob Barnett

 

 


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One6 A (1990)

One6 B (1990)

One6 C (1990)

One10 (1992)




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