Teodoro Anzellotti - 3 Compositions by John Cage"The music he preferred he had not yet had a chance to hear. And he composed so that, at last, he could hear this music which he had never heard: the American composer John Cage (September 5, 1912 to August 12, 1992). This pupil of Arnold Schönberg's (who praised him more as a brilliant inventor than as a composer) is regarded as one of the twentieth century's most radical innovators in the field of musical thought. His early compositions were written in the conventional style (even if his instrumentations were often everything but conventional); however, Cage strove, in the course of his creative evolution, to find ways of freeing his composing from his own intention and will. The quest for the ideal system of coincidence led Cage to an intense study of Zen Buddhism and to the discovery of I-Ging as his perfect coincidence approach.
“Cheap Imitation”, composed in 1969, also owes its existence to this system of coincidence. Originally, a transposition of Erik Satie's symphonic drama “Socrate” for a choreography by Merce Cunningham had been planned. However, at the last minute, Cage was denied by the publisher in France the right to adapt Satie's piece for two pianos. In order not to jeopardize Cunningham's choreography, Cage wrote a new piece which was rhythmically identical to the original “Socrate”. Cage deconstructed, distorted and tore Satie's piece to shreds, before putting it back together again with the help of his peculiar system of coincidence. The result was a wonderful and simple musical line in three movements which remained true to the spirit of Satie's work. This strategy did not only offer Cage an easy way-out of a difficult situation, it made him discover a new imitation technique which he was to use again and again in subsequent works.
The request made in 1983 by the American Guild of Organists for an imitation by Cage of his own 1948 work “Dream” was first turned down by the composer. Despite numerous pleas, he did not accept the contract until he was given complete freedom by the Guild for the composition. In the end, he composed a piece which resembled “Dream” after all. “Souvenir” (the title speaks for itself!) offers the musician a minimum amount of musical material, and challenges him by conferring him the status of a co-author. The notes written down on the score can be held by the musician just as he likes. Almost no limits are set to the musician's creativity and the performance is therefore extremely demanding.
The same can be said of the piece “Dream”, written for piano 35 (!) years earlier: Through the entire piece, the notes are held ad libitum by the interprets. With the overlapping sounds which ensue, the musician adds a wealth of resonance to the melody. In this sense, every performance of “Dream” gives rise to a new piece. “Dream”, which was also composed for a work by Merce Cunningham, follows the structure of the choreography rhythmically, whereas the music, with the exception of the last bars, modulates to an unaccompanied melody. In spite of the alignment with the choreography, the autonomy of the music is preserved. Because, as John Cage says in his autobiographical statements: music and dance are independent, but coexist.
In his efforts to minimise his own influence on the written music, Cage passes on the responsibility for the success of the performance to the musician. This is an instrumental challenge which only few musicians feel up to. Accordionist Teodoro Anzellotti is one of those. Anzellotti had already demonstrated great sensitivity and musical openness with his outstanding interpretations of Satie's piano music (Winter&Winter 910 031-2). Once more, Anzellotti carries us off to the multifaceted world of his instrument: from the isolated pianissimo to plaintive sound storms, from the organ-like layering of chords to an introverted melodic line. His interpretations seem to keep within the realm of objectivity, precisely in the spirit of John Cage. No emotional clouding, no tacked on lyrical element distracts us from the clarity of Cage's compositional thought.
In short: the music of the great American composer could hardly be rendered in a more congenial spirit. - Erik Zwang" - W&W website