John Cage: Four4 - Single
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"Four 4" was Cage's last work for percussion and is here presented in a massive, 72-minute performance by Glenn Freeman. The sounds employed are of long duration: timpani rolls, runs of bells, brushes or strokings of cymbals, etc. A striking feature of the composition, however, is the relatively extreme lengths of the silences between portions, sometimes extending for several minutes. In a sense, this is a very difficult recording to enjoy and appreciate but that's in large part because of the demands Cage's music places on the listener, something that, all these years after "4:33," can still be a tough row to hoe. There's a tension between the music played (and one's natural instinct to listen to it for various "musical" qualities) and its character as an element in a sound field that equally coexists with silence, not so much as "music" but as space occupier. In other words, it doesn't really matter how deftly Freeman handles a given sequence (he does so, certainly), but how that sequence fits with what came before and what comes after, and how much the listener distinguishes between the two, if at all. As with much of Cage's work, it's entirely appropriate (indeed, almost mandatory) to incorporate the sounds of one's surroundings with the "music" being heard. The first time I listened to "Four 4," some Satie piano music was being loudly played nearby; at first bothersome, it quickly became apparent that nothing could have been more apropos to fill in the silences. By now, most experienced listeners can deal with "4:33" and cope with extensions of that idea, whereas problems can be caused when the same notions are in effect but the space is less pristine. Good problems, to be sure. Four4 is a challenging release, strongly recommended.
1st release of the extended work for percussion
Third in a complete series of the Number Pieces (final works) for strings and/or percussion, this 72-minute CD features the first release of John Cage's final work for percussion.
Years Active: '90s, '00s