There are a couple of new recordings out with some of my writing included.
Loré Lixenberg, Gregory Rose, and Robert Worby have released the first ever complete recording of the Song books on a Sub Rosa 2-CD release. It’s quite an accomplishment. A few of the solos get their own tracks and the rest are overlaid in seven mixes.
The performances and recording are beautiful. I’ve always thought of the Song books as a very Dionysian piece, and performances I’ve seen in the past have always been circus-like affairs. In this CD production, however, a very different image of the Song books emerges, one that is much more Apollonian, spacious, and clear. You can’t really capture the Song books on an audio recording, of course: there’s all of the overt theatrics that Cage put into it. But in the CD you can really hear what the music part sounds like, and the results can be quite ear-opening. The mixes remind me of Cage’s observation that his music could be layered on top of itself many times without the texture becoming heavy or muddy. No matter how many solos are going on at once, the music is clear and full of empty space.
Update: I’ve posted the text of the note I wrote for the recording here.
The other release is from the John Cage Trust: Sonatas and interludes performed by Nurit Tilles. This has been released on 45 RPM vinyl (3 discs). The packaging is exquisite and thoughtful. The theme is the box of original preparation materials that Cage kept: a metal box with the preparations for each note in a separate envelope. The box for the vinyl includes photos of the metal box; the interior sleeves for the discs has photos of the envelopes of materials: very clever.
This is a limited release: only 433 copies (clever again). I have to admit that the exterior was so lovely, I had a hard time bringing myself to break open the shrink wrap!