John Cage: 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776; Cheap Imitation

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
For most of his career, American composer John Cage did not much care for the thirds and sixths that form the building blocks of the majority of Western music. Yet Cage stood for the very idea that all sounds were acceptable in music -- what did he have against good, old-fashioned traditional harmony? Arnold Schoenberg once warned Cage that if he didn't get a grip on harmony, he would always be "butting his head against the wall," a condition that, in 1934, Cage was happy to accept. However, by 1969 either the wall, or his head, was getting too a bit hard, as Cage realized he was going to a lot of trouble creating works that were enormously complex, impractical and had...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
For most of his career, American composer John Cage did not much care for the thirds and sixths that form the building blocks of the majority of Western music. Yet Cage stood for the very idea that all sounds were acceptable in music -- what did he have against good, old-fashioned traditional harmony? Arnold Schoenberg once warned Cage that if he didn't get a grip on harmony, he would always be "butting his head against the wall," a condition that, in 1934, Cage was happy to accept. However, by 1969 either the wall, or his head, was getting too a bit hard, as Cage realized he was going to a lot of trouble creating works that were enormously complex, impractical and had little lasting value. With "Cheap Imitation" 1969 for solo violin, Cage made a breakthrough, merely through "decomposing" parts of a work he'd long loved -- Erik Satie's cantata "Socrate." Irvine Arditti and the Arditti Quartet's two-disc set Cage: 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776; Cheap Imitation on Mode Records is an expertly played examination of this significant transitional period in Cage's development. "Apartment House 1776" was a large "circus" created for the American Bicentennial, being Cage's vision of a 1776 apartment house with different rooms representing the various residents inside. The "44 Harmonies" occupied just one of these rooms, but as with the parts in Cage's "Concert for piano and orchestra" 1958, any single element in "Apartment House 1776" can be singled out independently. Irvine Arditti has arranged the "44 Harmonies for string quartet," and in this medium it works extremely well. In music consisting of partly "decomposed" eighteenth century American hymn tunes, the quartet sounds like one large violin that is missing a string or two. The harmonies are pleasant, naked, and devoid of a conventional context; silences are frequent. This music is more potholes than road, and its lack of forward progression will prove maddening to some. Nevertheless, others will appreciate the work's ethereal emptiness, and it makes for a lovely background element to studying or reading. Lasting a whopping 103:26, "44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776" takes up the whole first disc and most of the second, but the second disc is filled out with a fine solo performance of "Cheap Imitation" by Irvine Arditti in all its haunting, ghostly whiteness.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/22/2005
  • Label: Mode
  • UPC: 764593014423
  • Catalog Number: 144
  • Sales rank: 270,749

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Forty-Four Harmonies (44 Harmonies), for 4 voices (from "Apartment House 1776") - Arditti Quartet & John Cage (102:52)
  2. 2 Cheap Imitation, for solo violin - John Cage & Irvine Arditti (31:52)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Arditti Quartet Primary Artist
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