WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

John Cage: Indeterminacy / Krol, Kessel

Cage / Kessel / Krol
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 855   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Cage
Performer:  Joachim KrolSusanne Kessel
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CAGE Indeterminacy Joachim Król (spkr); Susanne Kessel (pn) OEHMS 855 (70:53)

The classic 1959 John Cage and David Tudor recording of Indeterminacy was originally issued on two LPs by Folkways, and is still available on CD from Smithsonian/Folkways. It consists of the reading of a sequence of brief anecdotes, quotations, and reminiscences that Cage wrote and later published in his books Read more style="font-style:italic">Silence and A Year From Monday , along with the simultaneous but unrelated performance of Solo for Piano (actually the piano component of Cage’s 1958 Concert for Piano and Orchestra) plus excerpts from the electronic realization of his Fontana Mix of the same year. Over the decades, performances have been rare, but since 2010 interest in Indeterminacy appears to be growing; notably, Laura Kuhn, director of the John Cage Trust and professor of performance art at Bard College, collaborated with turntable DJ Tadd Mullinix in a version for the 50th anniversary of the ONCE Festival, and British comedian Stewart Lee and pianists Tania Chen and Steve Beresford have presented it in venues from churches to nightclubs and art centers, culminating in a recent recording (Knitted Records), which may be downloaded from iTunes. (I haven’t heard it yet.)

For his recording, Cage arbitrarily selected 90 individual pieces and decided to make each of them fit into a one-minute time frame regardless of length. Using Cagean chance operations in their preparation of the program, the participants of this current release settled on 69 of the pieces, but followed Cage’s example of one-minute readings for each. Given the indeterminate details of the score for Solo for Piano, Susanne Kessel’s contribution is understandably different than that of David Tudor—whether by choice or chance, Tudor sounds busier throughout, his attacks more aggressive; Kessel stresses sparser textures and pointillist phrasing. In her hands, the notes sometimes nudge the words, or seem to respond to them, but less frequently obscure them. She too uses Cage’s original tape from Fontana Mix , and the occasional whooshes, whirrs, burrs, and distorted voices remain equally surprising.

Joachim Król’s reading is suitably undemonstrative, but the novel aspect of his role is that the text has been translated into German. As one might expect, this alters the experience in a fundamental—but not necessarily frustrating—way. Yes, listeners who don’t speak German will lose the sense of the stories, but, in an ironic Cagean twist, this in turn may allow them to focus greater attention upon the music, and perhaps notice the musicality, rather than just the meaning, of the language. Nevertheless, it is a shame to miss out on the charm, amusement, and thoughtful Zen philosophy of the original text, as well as the droll wit Cage brings to his performance. The original is still the way to go, with Król/Kessel a worthy supplement if you’re fluent in German, or a fanatic Cage collector.

FANFARE: Art Lange
Read less

Works on This Recording

Indeterminacy by John Cage
Performer:  Joachim Krol (Narrator), Susanne Kessel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title