CAGE, JOHN / LEJAREN HILLER: HPSCHD

 
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A monster of a work, and massive, this originated in a harpsichord commission Cage was reluctant to undertake but eventually completed in the course of three years work with (early computer programmer) Lejaren Hiller. It turned into - for its 1969 premiere - a four-hour multimedia overload for seven harpsichord soloists, electronic keyboard and 52 pre-prepared tapes (with material in 52 different computer generated microtonal divisions of the octave). A lot of existing music was used, especially Mozart - using his dice method - but also Beethoven, Chopin, Schoenberg, Busoni, Gottschalk and others. The result is a massive cacophony of wide spectrum pitches and melody fragments, like nothing before or since. This version was made by Joel Chadabe, the harpsichords played by Robert Conant. It lasts 65 minutes and there are two short demos of the materials used as extra tracks. The packaging is stunning. Flourescent colours and great design based on the small edition screened posters overseen by Cage for the first concert. The full and informative text is printed on 16 full colour cards which, when laid out form a wildly lurid poster themselves. It all comes in a psychedelic slipcase. Altogether a great work.




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