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Margaret Leng Tan - Sorceress Of The New Piano

Margaret Leng Tan
Release Date: 04/15/2008 
Label:  Mode   Catalog #: 194  
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenJohn CageHenry CowellGeorge Crumb,   ... 
Performer:  Margaret Leng TanJoan La Barbara
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SORCERESS OF THE NEW PIANO & Margaret Leng Tan (pn, toy pn) MODE 194 (DVD: 140:00)


Music by COWELL, CRUMB, CAGE, GLASS, TAN DUN, SATOH, GE, MOSTEL, TWINING, VIERK, KLUCEVSEK, MONTAGUE, DISTLER


& THE MAVERICK PIANO: works by CAGE, GE, SATIE, TWINING


It was George Crumb Read more who first proclaimed Margaret Leng Tan a sorceress, no doubt responding to the intensity and sonic magnetism of her performances. Somei Satoh imagines her as a shaman, summoning musical ghosts. Obviously, there’s something happening here, and watching “Sorceress of the New Piano” will give you a chance to experience it for yourself. Margaret Leng Tan has consecrated herself to liberating the piano’s hidden potential through bowing, plucking, preparing, sweeping the strings, crooning, or shouting into its resonant interior, always serving the vibratory essence of music. The three Cs—Cage, Crumb, and Cowell—who so often stipulate these extra-pianistic effects, provide her with a platform from which to embrace the wider dimensions of sound. But being a priestess of the new piano hasn’t prevented Margaret from exploring and making her own an instrument not usually associated with serious composition, let alone incantatory depths: she has become the preeminent toy pianist of our time, performing the “baby’s” surprisingly varied repertoire with a virtuoso’s technique and interpretive flair. Happily, her commitment hasn’t banished her sense of fun, as you’ll discover watching her perform with Schroeder, Charley Brown’s musical friend. And the mile-wide smile with which she acknowledges an audience’s applause is proof that she retains a childlike pleasure in music and performance.


“Sorceress of the New Piano” (2004) interweaves biographical details, Margaret’s vivid and perceptive observations, footage of a dancing Merce Cunningham, and a Marcel Duchamp film with excerpts of works by the three Cs and numerous other “mavericks.” The music covers a vast range of expression, from the “ominous harmonies” and overwhelming sound mass of Satoh’s Litania , to the inspired mixture of “pure” piano tone and toy piano chimes in Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 3 ; from Ge Gan-Ru’s paradoxical fusion of antiquity and modernity in Ancient Music , to the diatonic ripples of Montague’s Mirabella . Prominent critics—Edward Rothstein, Mark Swed, and Joshua Kosman—offer insights; and soprano Joan La Barbara joins Margaret in Cage’s The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs.


“The Maverick Piano” (2007) documents six of Margaret’s complete performances, showcasing the full gamut of techniques that make her concerts such engrossing experiences: Evans Chan illustrates the music with art by John Cage, printmaker, and with several short artistic films. In another multimedia highlight, Margaret accompanies Great Small Works’s fancifully conceived theater piece, A Mammal’s Notebook: The Erik Satie Cabaret , in which the company pays homage to Satie’s unique blend of whimsy, irony, and beauty using mime, a bowler hat-clad cast, and a giant puppet: it’s entertaining and evocative.


“Sorceress of the New Piano” and “The Maverick Piano” present a superb portrait of a charismatic performer, as well as an exciting compilation of “new piano” music. A feast for both the eye and the ear, they will enhance knowledgeable listeners’ appreciation of the imaginative compositions of the three Cs, et al. , while providing a stimulating introduction for those new to this esoteric, but highly accessible niche. And where else will you see Beethoven performed on the toy piano? (Watch the trailer at www.youtube.com/user/ModeRecords.) Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper


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Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 2 no 3: Excerpt(s) by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
2. Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight": Excerpt(s) by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
3. The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano), Joan La Barbara (Voice)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
4. Daughters of the Lonesome Isle by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
5. Music for Marcel Duchamp by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
6. The Perilous Night for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
7. Four Walls by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
8. 4' 33" for any Instrument(s) by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; USA 
9. In a Landscape by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
10. Music for Piano 2 by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; USA 
11. Suite for Toy Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
12. One 2 by John Cage
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
13. The Tides of Manaunaun by Henry Cowell
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1912; USA 
14. The Banshee by Henry Cowell
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; USA 
15. Makrokosmos I for amplified Piano: The Phantom Gondolier by George Crumb
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
16. Makrokosmos II for amplified Piano: Morning Music by George Crumb
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
17. Makrokosmos II for amplified Piano: Cosmic Wind by George Crumb
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
18. Three Landscapes for Peter Wyer by Jed Distler
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
19. Gu Yue for Piano (Ancient Music) by Ge Gan-Ru
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986 
20. Modern Love Waltz by Philip Glass
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; USA 
21. Sweet Chinoiserie by Guy Klucevsek
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Vienna, Austria 
22. Mirabella by Stephen Montague
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
23. Gymnopédies (3) for Piano: no 3, Lent et grave by Erik Satie
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1888; France 
24. Litania by Somei Satoh
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973; Japan 
25. C-A-G-E by Tan Dun
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993 
26. Satie Blues by Toby Twining
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
27. Nightmare Rag by Toby Twining
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Vienna, Austria 
28. To Stare Astonished at the Sea by Lois V. Vierk
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 

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