Tag Archives: John Cage

Duck and crystal

Just to remind myself that there are at least two ways of doing things, here are a couple of clips I came across some time ago, both of outstanding performances.

The first one is Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in B Minor K 27 in 1949. What this feels like to me is approaching a crystal lying at the centre of the universe. Everything is under complete control: the piano, his hands, his face, his feet, the turn-ups on his trousers and every single hair on his head. It is so perfect that if any flaw had developed anywhere in the crystal, if someone for example were to have crept in and untied one of his shoe-laces, perhaps everything would have shattered, leaving a pile of tiny splinters and his moustache.

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The Art of Toys and Pianos

pic-551dMemo to Philips. How can you let a CD called The Art of the Toy Piano go out of print ? It is one of the most surprising records I own. On it Margaret Leng Tan plays pieces like the Moonlight Sonata, Eleanor Rigby and a whizz-bang version of the Star Spangled Banner as well as other compositions made especially for toy piano. Here she is playing the toy piano as well as some other toy instruments.


She is also a specially good performer of John Cage’s music. My first experience with John Cage’s music was not too good. I rode on a train from Bologna to Ravenna which had been specially arranged by him to play his music and the amplified sound of the train. Unfortunately, something went wrong so we never managed to hear any of the his music but only the amplified train noise for two hours. Never mind, I actually like train noise. And later I fell in love with his piano sonatas. Margaret Leng Tan worked with Cage for many years and became one of his favourite performers. In the next clip you can see him telling her so. Watch this one to the end and you will see a surprising up-and-coming performer. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cage had written a piece especially for him/her (hard to tell which) perhaps by marking the keys with smells. There is a page about Margaret Leng Tan at  http://margaretlengtan.com/