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In 2001 Thomas Buckner organized a series of concerts at the Merkin Hall in New York City asking contemporary classic composers to perform together with another artist of their choice. When Robert Ashley – already one of the most anticipated guests – decided to invite his old friend Walter Marchetti to perform together, the peak event of the series was set. It was the first concert of Italian composer Marchetti in the States for more than 30 years.
The night of October 25th, 2001, the audience at the Merkin Hall had the privilege of being presented one of the most dense, intimate and breathtaking events in contemporary music history. The 2LP set, limited to an edition of 300 copies and published by choose, is produced by Emanuele Carcano (alga marghen) and Jörg Hiller (choose).
Side A and B include the live rendering (realization?) of two Walter Marchetti sound works previously issued on CD by alga marghen. a 25 min excerpt of “Nei mari del sud. Musica in secca” and one painful variation from “de musicorum infelicitate”. The performance of those tape pieces was conceived as an action theatre event. Side C includes the recording of Robert Ashley's “Yes, but is it Edible?”, a composition for piano and voice dedicated to Thomas Buckner who performs it with the composer. This 27:30 min long piece is a true masterpiece, with Robert Ashley introducing us to creation and coincidence, space and time, private parts and characters, with direct references to the ONCE group and his friends David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, George Manupelli, as well as Maria Calas and Patsy Cline, Elvis and Lennon, Monteverdi, pop music, Irish and Jewish new-comer's Broadway musica parody of America, Lloyd-Weber, “Saturday Night Life”, Chinese opera, mariachi bands, country music and much more.
Side D includes “Practical Anarchism”, a touching homage that Robert Ashley dedicated to Walter Marchetti. Previously published as a text by alga marghen in the booklet of “Antibarbarus” CD, this is actually the first time ever that this piece for solo voice, performed by the same Robert Ashley, is made available on record. Here Robert Ashley mainly refers to Walter Marchetti's trip in the States, touring with ZAJ in the early 1970s at the invitation of John Cage who considered ZAJ “the only composers of genius and dignity”. As Robert Ashley says “...genius and dignity radiate for thousands of miles. I know of Walter Marchetti because of the radiation of the genius and dignity. Weeks later he and Juan Hidalgo and Esther Ferrer appear at the bus station in Oakland California. Genius and dignity light up the humble landscape of the bus station in Oakland California. I have never felt such presence. They give two concerts. The American audiences are baffled and arrogant. Hostile to brilliance. An hour of almost silence. The most modest and sweet sounds in my experience. Then Walter's piece a roar. The audiences are baffled. Maybe the most important concerts of my life. A kind of dignity long lost. Perhaps truly extinct...”. Also on side D is “Musica per un bicchiere non molto grande”, an early ZAJ piece by Walter Marchetti, performed here by Robert Ashley.