On the home page of this site, I maintain a news feed that keeps track of stories on John Cage, in this, his centennial year. I’ll also be writing a couple things for publication in other journals, and in the meantime, I troll the intertubes for news of new and reissued recordings (if you have a COMPLETEBOXSETEDITION fetish like me, you’re probably agonizing over who will be putting together a complete archive of his enormous catalog, and how much it’s going to cost in blood, sweet and money you/I don’t have. Will it be you, Mode?) and I’ve got some recommendations:
This is an excellent cornerstone for both completeness and quality. Schleiermacher’s playing and thinking are consistently clear and good. That he has his own particular style in much of this music, not just in terms of following Cage’s instructions to make choices in many pieces, but in terms of musical expression, is an important commentary on interpretation. Yes, Cage is open to interpretation, that matters and enhances his importance and, yes, greatness.
The 25 Year Retrospective Concert of John Cage — It was May, 1958 and Cage was already a vitally important artist, with so many more explorations and discoveries to come. This is an essential recording, not just as a stand-alone survey of early to mid-period masterpieces, but as a document of the history of ideas in civilization. This collection has been in and out of print for years, now re-issued by Wergo, and Amazon has the best price for the digital download version.
Wergo has also re-issued Grete Sultan’s important recording of the almost-impossible-to-play Etudes Australes, music written for her and the premiere recording (there’s also a fine, new one from Sabine Liebner, at a good price for download).
The execs at Decca Classics have surprisingly, and gladly, decided to release a new recording of the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano, played by John Tilbury!
Petr Kotik’s recording of the Concert for Piano and Orchestra with Atlas Eclipticalis, one of the very finest examples of a Cage performance and utterly beautiful, is available for download at the amazing price of $1.98! Too cheap not to buy.