John Cage’s percussion works are among his most historically important. After 42 Volumes in Mode’s Cage Edition, Mode is releasing the first volume dedicated to his percussion music. Percussion Group Cincinnati is particularly respected for its knowledge of and experience with the entire range of John Cage’s music, having made tours and festival appearances with him on a number of occasions in Europe and in America, and having had pieces created by Cage especially for the Group. Volume 1 consists of the complete Imaginary Landscapes 1-5 (1939-52) and Credo in US (1942). Some of these works’ revolutionary features include the use of radios and phonograph recordings — anticipating the concept of sampling. Credo in US is scored for a pianist, two percussionists playing muted gongs, tin cans, electric buzzer and tom-toms, and a fourth performer operating a radio and phonograph. Two performances are included here, one with the phonograph featuring Beethoven and other composers (from 78-rpm records), the other Shostakovich (from LP).
Imaginary Landscape #1 (1939) is scored for muted piano, cymbal, radio and Test-Tone records to be played on a variable speed turntable. The actual records and turntable specified in the score were located and used for this recording. Imaginary Landscape #4 (1942) requires 12 radios and conductor. It’s meticulous score specifies dynamics and frequencies yet the result will always be different, subject to what is broadcast at that time: music, talk, noise, static and silence. Imaginary Landscape #5 (1952) is made from a collage of fragments from (LP) records, recorded on tape. There are eight tracks, made from 42 selected records. Duration and amplitude are notated but there is no indication of what records (or what kind of music) should be used. Two versions are given here: one with jazz recordings (as in Cage’s original), the second using Cage recordings from Mode’s Edition.