Cage Music for Piano Vol. 4

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LABELS: Brilliant Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Cage Music for Piano Vol. 4
WORKS: Music for piano Vol. 4: music for piano 1-84; ASLSP for piano; One for piano; One2 for 1-4 pianos; One5 for piano
PERFORMER: Giancarlo Simonacci (piano)


Chance and indeterminacy are not the same thing but they were both significant concepts underpinning John Cage’s work from the early 1950s onwards. He used them in different ways and devised techniques for creating both in order to free his music from his own taste, ego, likes and dislikes.

This three-CD set beautifully demonstrates Cage’s aesthetic in a series of virtuoso performances involving a fabulous array of piano sounds and playing techniques.

Music for Piano 1-84 was composed between 1952 and 1956 and here Cage used minute imperfections in the paper, on which he wrote these 84 short pieces, to create the elements of chance that he needed. Throughout the work some aspects of the music are determined by the performer, hence the indeterminacy. Giancarlo Simonacci crafts each sound, and collection of sounds, with great sensitivity and precision. Continuity and discontinuity move with shifting energy like water in an ancient river.

In the later pieces, on the third CD, the focus is on simultaneity of pitch; Cage’s idea of harmony without rules. Here time flows without turbulence allowing us to focus on chords and individual notes. In One2, for one player and four pianos, we also hear sounds reminiscent of the earlier works. Simonacci is not afraid to give the material the space it needs and he correctly ensures that silence is as important as sound. The recording is superb, offering great clarity.


Robert Worby