Sixty years after John Cage began composing his most extensive and ambitious compendium of indeterminate and graphic notations, the Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957-8) remains something of a mystery. Often discussed for its stunning array of unusual and elaborate notations, it is all too rarely performed. As this recording testifies, it is a rich, dazzling and mesmerising work; carnivalesque, a 20th-century masterpiece.
As a companion work to the Concert for Piano and Orchestra, celebrated American composer Christian Wolff - a close associate of Cage and fellow member of the 'New York School' - was commissioned to write a new work for Apartment House. The result, Resistance, was premiered in July 2017. Both works celebrate performance as a unique event, and the openness of the scores produces music which resists repetition. Both works question the nature of an ensemble, how musicians and sounds relate to one another, and the functions of musical form in ways that, like Wolff's title, seem vital to contemporary life.
This recording by Apartment House with Philip Thomas (piano) marks a long and rich engagament with the music of both Cage - in particular the Concert for Piano and Orchestra - and Wolff, whose music they have enjoyed performing for 15 years.
"The Apartment House performance of Concert opened up a new way of hearing this music. As the discordance voices rose, coalesced, fell apart and were silences, the piece became an ominous, unreadable symbol for the times...I've never heard a more powerful performance of the piece, live on record." Ben Harper, Boring Like A Drill live performance at Cafe OTO, 10 July 2017
AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE CRITICS CHOICE 2018
1 John Cage - Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957-58)
1 Christian Wolff - Resistance (2017) (world premiere recording)
Artists: Apartment House | Philip Thomas piano
Cat # HCR16CD
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Apartment House was formed by the cellist Anton Lukoszevieze in 1995. Since then it has established itself as the leading British exponent of avant-garde and experimental music from around the world. Apartment House performances embrace radical elements of avant-garde and experimental music creating a wide range of acoustical and theatrical situations within which volatile and stimulating performances occur. The seeds of the Apartment House repertoire stem from the hardcore European avant-garde, the joyful anarchy of The Scratch Orchestra, and the exploratory nature of experimental music.
Recorded at Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, School of Music, University of Leeds, 1 July 2017
Recording producer: Alex Bonney