Wednesday, 27 July 2016
John Cage - Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1951)
I first heard the Sonatas & Interludes some years ago in a late-90s Naxos recording, which didn't make a huge impression on me for whatever reason. Picked up the Ajemian recording last year after the release of Aphex Twin's brilliant EP Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2, which wore its Cage influences on its sleeve to the point of almost sounding like it was directly quoting this work at times.
So its thanks to Richard D. James that I've found myself hooked on the Sonatas & Interludes for Prepard Piano. The 'Prepared' part involves nuts, bolts, screws and other objects being inserted into the piano as fully directed by Cage in the score, but perfect adherence to the preparation table is not required - "do it so that it seems right to you" in the composer's words. Sounding percussive and forthright at some points, soft and meditative at others, these pieces are a perfect fusion of East and West (Indian philosophy being Cage's starting point for shaping the suite). The unique piano tones are sometimes bell-like, sometimes like a minature gamelan, and always fascinating and beautiful.
Previously posted at SGTG: Indeterminacy