Album: James Tenney John Cage: Sonatas & Interludes (Hat[now]Art)

 

John Cage's prepared-piano pieces are the second most famous part of his oeuvre, after the legendary 4'33", though the precision and breadth of moods involved here, from hesitant and inquisitive to expansive and reflective, offers the most potent rebuttal to the claims of charlatanry frequently elicited by that silent piece.

The "preparation" of piano strings with screws, bolts and rubbers at crucial harmonic cusps means that each individual performance is subtly different, and James Tenney's interpretations, recorded exactly 10 years ago by the late pianist, are the best I've heard: the piano sounds less damped than usual, the notes more resonant and glacially metallic, with a gamelan quality reflecting Cage's original inspiration for his innovative compositions. 

Download: Sonata 1; Sonata 5; Sonata 14

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