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David Tudor, John Cage

Variations IV, Vol. I

"Due to unprecedented demand" for the first volume of Everest's 1965 release of John Cage's Variations IV (perhaps unique at the time given the experimental nature of the material), a second selection of music culled from Cage and associate David Tudor's marathon six-hour concert at the Feigen-Palmer Gallery in Los Angeles was released. Whereas the first volume indicated roughly at what moment of the performance the recordings were sourced from (its four extracts document events taking place in the four hour-long slots between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm), the tracks on Variations IV, Vol. II are merely titled "Part One" and "Part Two," making it impossible to determine at what stage of the piece these particular sound events occurred. Given the anarchic nature of the music though, it hardly matters; for those familiar with Vol. I, there are few surprises. Several samples (notably Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker") reappear; presumably Cage and Tudor's assistants only came along with a limited selection of albums to mix. The spoken introduction, much of which also duplicates that on Vol. I, invites us again to listen closely to hear the tinkle of the glasses in the bar (over which a microphone was suspended), but you'd be hard-pressed to catch it over the din of standard classical repertoire once more mercilessly pillaged and collaged, Pop Art style (the unfortunate victims this time include Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique," Mozart's "40th Symphony," and Schubert's "Trout Quintet," and that's just in the first four minutes). One gets the distinct impression that the objective was merely to debunk the hoary old chestnuts in a manner akin to Marcel Duchamp's notorious gesture of adding a moustache to the Mona Lisa. As such, the all-inclusive aesthetic of Cage's indeterminacy has been better served by more recent releases, although the snippets of Winston Churchill's wartime speeches in such a chaotic context can still raise a smile.

Details
Cat. number: 4939621
Year: 2012

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