Album review: John Cage, The Works for Organ (Mode)


John Cage wrote remarkably little organ music, but the accent as usual was on remarkable: for “Some of 'The Harmony of Maine'”, he adapted 19th-century hymns by Supply Belcher with regard to the organ's multiple-timbral possibilities, in ways which required six assistant organists to perform complex registration changes.

More absorbing, however, are the later eight-part suites “ASLSP” and “Organ2/ASLSP”, whose titles refer to the instruction to play “as slow as possible”, with individual tones and chords held for long periods, often in dissonant collusion. (His open attitude to register and duration has resulted in one German performance of the latter to be scheduled to run for 639 years).

Download: ASLSP; Organ2/ASLSP; Souvenir