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John Cage

John Cage

The Works for Organ

  • Type CD
  • Label Mode Records
  • UPC 0764593025320
  • Catalog number MODE 253
  • Release date 07 April 2017
Physical (CD)

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About the album

This release is the first complete recording of all of Cage’s works for organ. It ia also available on DVD, with the added DVD only track of 4'33".

The organ is ideally suited to Cage’s aesthetic — its multitude of stops make it the ultimate “prepared” instrument. The fact that sound emanates from a number of pipes placed at discrete locations in space nicely accords with Cage’s idea of the separation of sounds in space. And it represents vast possibilities that could be released as sound through the use of chance operations. For this reason Cage’s organ music occupies a small but quite important place within his output.

For Some of “The Harmony of Maine” Cage selected 18th-century American hymns by Supply Belcher and altered them by extending certain tones and removing others through chance operations so as to attenuate the functional harmony underlying them. Here and there, melodic fragments from the original hymns remain.

ASLSP and Organ2/ASLSP are wonderful explorations of sound written for the German organist Gerd Zacher, an important champion of new music.

Souvenir is an unusual work for Cage from 1984. After receiving half of the commission fee from the American Guild of Organists, he learned that they wanted him to make a piece that was similar to the 1948 piano composition Dream. Never one to repeat himself literally, he returned the commission fee, but it was remailed to him with assurances that he could make whatever kind of piece he wished. Thus liberated, he decided to comply with the original request, and so Souvenir is a melodious work with repetitions yet with the intrusions of harsh tone clusters, which make it something “new.”

American organist Gary Verkade, a Zacher student, is on the faculty of the Musikhögskola in Piteå, Sweden. He has appeared at major festivals and concerts throughout Europe and the USA. Verkade was one of the registrants in the first German performance of Some of “The Harmony of Maine.”

The DVD allows the listener to enjoy the sounds of the spectacular organ and its acoustic in surround sound while viewing Tim Chu’s painterly films of the organist with the up to six registrants needed for some of the pieces.

Includes trilingual booklet with essay by Rob Haskins.  

The Complete John Cage Edition Volume 47

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