(OgreOgress)

This disc contains the first recordings of John Cage’s final works for strings and/or percussion, masterfully handled by a quartet including Christina Fong (violin, viola) Karen Krummel (cello) Glenn Freeman (percussion) and Michael Crawford (bass). It is a surprising side of the American composer, revealing a new introspective light that plays hide-and-seek with a hesitant silence; the almost feeble voice produced by the string scores in “Four” is like a picture of Cage’s inner views finally getting their due completion as he nears the end of his life’s course. Glenn Freeman’s rigour in the initial “One4″ is almost scary in its pronounceable tension; he returns in the longest piece, “Twenty-nine”, which is a continuum reminiscent of static minimalists – Phill Niblock comes to mind – where percussion and strings embrace in a dramatic shift to sympathetic responsiveness, while light-hearted proportionalities are flattened by dissonant held tones. The six versions of “Four” are playable in various combinations of succession but the result is the same as Fong, Krummel and Crawford depict an emotional portrait of unstable punctuality, as chance and probability give the music a sense of imminence rarely heard in other Cage compositions. Together with their Morton Feldman’s CDs containing some of his best rare works, we have another unmissable jewel from OgreOgress here.

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