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John CAGE (1912 – 1992)
One7 (1990) [30:00]
One8 (1991) [43:30]
rec. no information, published 2001
The disc did not bear a catalogue number
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Let me tell you straightaway that this is one of the most curious discs that I have come across recently. First, there is not a single mention of who the player is. It may be Karen Krummel who also plays in another CD from the same source that I reviewed some time ago. Second, one of the pieces One7 (1990) seems to have had a rather chequered genesis. It apparently draws on the extant material for One13 begun in 1992 (why is then One7 dated as from 1990?) and left unfinished at the time of Cage’s death. Rob Haskins’ notes mention that "some evidence suggests that One13 was to be for cello and three pre-recorded cellos, and was to be composed entirely of single notes, the production of which would be determined by chance operations chosen from ninety-eight possibilities". I am not quite sure whether I understand it all; but, yes, it uses long-held single notes interspersed by variable silences. Yes, the sound apparently varies through the use of various bowing techniques ... or so I suppose. As to the other part of these comments, I am not completely sure either, but it all sounds to me as if some electronic device has been used in one way or another. All I can add to this, is that the piece goes on like this for half an hour with not much happening throughout that half hour. The overall effect is what some would describe as "hypnotic", although others would probably find it utterly boring.

Much the same could be said of One8, except that this is still longer, playing for about three quarters of an hour. Haskins again tells us that Cage wrote One8 "to take advantage of a curved bow which enables a cellist to sustain chords of three and even four different notes". In fact, this piece is rather in the same vein, except that sounds are more varied, alternating single notes and chords, and sometimes producing arresting effects; but, again, non-developmental music such as this is likely to appeal and to repel as well depending on one’s frame of mind. I found these pieces much too long for their own good.

I wish that my reaction to this release was more positive - and it has nothing to do with the playing of the uncredited cellist, far from that. I am sure that fans of Cage’s music will want to have it, whereas others will have to judge for themselves, I am afraid.

Hubert Culot



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