Wednesday 12 December 2007

John Cage - Quartets I-VIII / Music for 17 (1976 - 1992)


1. "Quartets I-VIII" (1976) for 24 instruments 37'18''

2. "Music for Seventeen" (1984-87) 30'05''

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about "Quartets I-VIII"

"Quartets I-VIII" is among Cage's most beautiful works. While there are no restrictions in the score for the number of performers, no more than four can be playing at any one time. None of them are in conscious harmony with one another. The sources of his material are eight early American hymns, all of them known as "shape note hymns." Shape note singing is notated by large drawings on paper for those who didn't read music so they could find the pitch. Harmony was not paid strict attention to; emotions, rather, were to inspire singers and listeners. Cage's lifelong disrespect for musical harmony is held in abeyance here, not because of the hymns -- which have been deconstructed and reconstructed using the I Ching for guidance -- themselves, but because in such a system, over such a large number of pitches and overtones, harmony is bound to occur, perhaps not in specific places, but the chances of it not happening are rare. In the recording, with so much left to the individual, it seems to occur more often that it does not, coming as it does from terribly fragmented material. The result is a shimmering, spare piece of emotional music that reflects the harmony of nature -- human nature"
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about "Music for Seventeen":

"In one of the interviews in Joan Retallack's "Musicage. Cage muses on Words Music Art" John Cage explains that he started writing this composition for the Ensemble 13. Being mistaken about the number of players and the ensemble disliking the microtonal writing, he stopped working on it and composed Thirteen instead. Since no manuscripts of Seventeen exist in the New York Public Library, Cage probably refers to Sixteen instead."

This recording was realized by San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Stephen L.Mosko, Music Director. Joan LaBarbara, Soprano.

Recorded digitally at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California, USA (no dates mentioned). CD released in 1993 © Newport Classics
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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi. Great photo. Thanks.

Art Simon said...

Great music, I wouldn't have know this existed. Thanks!

wightdj said...

Thanks, perfect music to escape with!

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