The first appearance of the work of John Cage on ECM is cause for celebration. This recording goes beyond the artistic-nihilistic gestures and the anarchic-Zen gags to get at the essence of Cage's musical thought. Cage's playfulness can't be - and shouldn't be - muzzled, of course, but here one also experiences the beauty and the sensuality of the compositions, thanks to the input of two musicians who worked closely with the composer: conductor Dennis Russell Davies and pianist Margaret Leng Tan. The album includes a premiere recording of "Seventy-Four" which Cage wrote especially for the American Composers Orchestra.
This astonishing disc is possibly the best collection of John Cage's music now on the market. It covers the gamut of Cage's radicalism as well as his humor, and as such there is something for everyone (newbies included). Of particular delight here is Suite for Toy Piano (1948), which employs only the white keys in a single octave, and the beautifully orchestrated version that follows (done by Lou Harrison, a friend of Cage, in 1963). But three of Cage's absolute masterpieces—each totally different from the other—are also here: the eerie Seventy-Four (1992), the ballet score for The Seasons (1947) and the riveting Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1950-51). Everything you need to know about John Cage is right here.—Amazon.com
Described by The Village Voice as ''the world's premiere string piano virtuoso'', the performances by Margaret Leng Tan comes across as very strong in light of the typically disengaged continuity of Cagean long silences. Joan La Barbara's chaste tones provide additional contrast. "The Perilous Night" was written for the prepared piano, John Cage's now classic invention from the late 1930's, where various objects inserted between the strings of a grand piano act as mutes which completely transform the timbral characteristics of the instrument. "The Perilous Night", one of Cage's more complex preparations, calls for a piano to be heavily muted with materials ranging from the standard bolts, nuts and weather stripping to bamboo slivers.