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Cage: The Perilous Night, In A Landscape, Music For Marcel Duchamp, Etc / Aki Takahashi


Release Date: 11/11/2008 
Label:  Camerata Records   Catalog #: 28142   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CAGE A Room. Amores. The Perilous Night. A Valentine Out of Season. Music for Marcel Duchamp. In a Landscape. Cheap Imitation Aki Takahashi (pn) CAMERATA 28142 (74:02)


Aki Takahashi (sister to the equally accomplished pianist Yuji Takahashi) has been recognized largely, though not exclusively, through her commitment to new music, with critically acclaimed recordings of works by Feldman, Xenakis, Scelsi, and Takemitsu, among others, to her credit. Though the music of John Cage has been an important part of Read more her recital repertoire since her debut in 1970, she has documented little of it on disc until now. This program of primarily early pieces—all dating from the 1940s, with the exception of the three-movement, Satie-derived Cheap Imitation from 1969—is completely notated and constructed according to Cage’s mathematical methodology of the time, which means there is no indeterminacy or chance at play here. Most of these pieces were composed to accompany dancers, and so consist of brief episodes of varying rhythmic attack and propulsive design, making use of ostinatos, repetition, contrasting sequences, and concise modes. And, except for In A Landscape and Cheap Imitation , they are played on an instrument prepared with objects attached to the strings to create exotically chiming or thudding percussive tones.


Despite the expanded tonal colors and effects of the prepared piano, these are not flamboyant pieces; due in some part to Cage’s study of Asian and Indian musics, they are often tranquil, bordering on ritualistic, although the tactile, percussive sounds—such as the brittle tang and clatter throughout the five-part Perilous Night , and the crisp, albeit understated, playfulness of Music for Marcel Duchamp , which comes closest to resembling the popular sonatas and interludes for prepared piano being composed at the same time—provide an additional sense of momentum. Again, In a Landscape and Cheap Imitation are the exceptions; the former is a stream of soothing, rippling arpeggiations that is extremely un-Cage-like in demeanor, while the latter reassembles the material from Satie’s Socrate into similarly uninflected, chant-like melodies with a few surprising intervals or modulations.


What Takahashi brings to this material is an aptly calming, yet authoritative focus. Morton Feldman once described her interpretative approach: “Takahashi appears to be absolutely still, undisturbed, unperturbed, as if in a concentrated prayer”—and this may be heard in the unadorned precision of her articulation. There is no subtle romanticizing of melodic contours, no lingering over atmospheric details. Interpreters like Steffen Schleiermacher (in his complete survey of Cage’s solo piano music for MDG) and Jeanne Kirstein (with a historical viewpoint reissued by New World) may allow a bit more dramatic resonance, but Takahashi’s contemplative perspective is no less engaging.


FANFARE: Art Lange
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Works on This Recording

1.
A Room by John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
2.
Amores by John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
3.
The Perilous Night for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
4.
A Valentine Out of Season for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
5.
Music for Marcel Duchamp by John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
6.
In a Landscape by John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
7.
Cheap Imitation by John Cage
Performer:  Aki Takahashi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; USA 

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