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Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

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John CAGE (1912-1992)
Complete Works for Flute - Vol.2
Solo for Flute, Alto Flute and Piccolo (1957-58) [15:02]
Solo with Obbligato Accompaniment of 2 Voices in Canon, and 6 Short Inventions on the Subject of the Solo (1933-34) [13:26]
Composition for 3 Voices (1934) [4:43]
Sonata for 2 Voices (1933) [4:13]
Hymnkus (1986) [29:52]
Katrin Zenz (flutes); Tobia Liebezeit (vibraphone); Maxim Mankovski (vibraphones); Chara Iacovidou (piano); Ludovic Frachot (piano)
rec. 2013-2014, Athens, Greece
NAXOS 8.559774 [67:16]

The title of “Complete Works for Flute, Vol.2” is, to me, a misnomer. None of the works on this album was actually written specifically for flute. The first piece is, I believe, taken from the flute part of John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra, the rest are all arrangements by flautist Katrin Zenz or composer Anargyros Deniosos.

The Solo for Flute, Alto Flute and Piccolo is derived from pages 133-144 of the Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1958). It is one of John Cage’s compositions where the composition is to be performed in any order, in whole or in part. This, quite naturally, results in interpretations that are different from one another. For this recording, six out of the twelve pages are chosen. Extended techniques for the flute family are on full display here: variable vibrato, flutter-tonguing, trills and tremolos, microtonal alterations and glissandi, key noises, multiphonics, whistling and singing. It is a thoroughly avant-garde piece.

The following three works were all written in the 1930s for any instruments that cover the range that is required. Deniosos arranged the Solo with Obbligato Accompaniment of 2 Voices in Canon, and 6 Short Inventions on the Subject of the Solo (1933-34), while Zenz made the arrangements for the Composition for 3 Voices (1934) and the Sonata for 2 Voices (1933). There are no extended techniques employed here and the compositions sound distinctly less avant-garde; not surprising given that they were written some twenty years earlier than the first piece on the album.

Hymnkus, by far the newest and longest piece here, is heard in Anargyros Deniosos’s arrangement for alto flute, two pianos and two vibraphones. It is pointillistic, reminiscent of pieces by Anton Webern.

The booklet is in English only, with essays by Richard Whitehouse and Katrin Zenz.

This is a provocative disc that should appeal to people interested in John Cage’s music.

Wai Kit Leung



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