Boomkat Product Review:
"Live recording at the Rotonda del Pellegrini, Milan, January 21st, 1959 featuring John Cage, Morton Feldman, Juan Hidalgo, Leopoldo La Rosa, Walter Marchetti. Among all the events involving John Cage during the long stay in Europe that followed his controversial appearance at Darmstadt Ferienkurse in September 1958, the concert he held in Milan on January 21st perhaps represents a less well known episode. The reasons that justify the necessity to present here, after forty years, the complete recording of the concert, and that restore the measure of the exceptionality of this rare document can be summarized in the contrasting reactions catalyzed by this event. Featuring Cage's intervention both as composer and performer of one's own work as well as of two piano pieces by Morton Feldman, the concert at Pellegrini's 'Rotonda' may be considered the first event of experimental music in Europe in which the presentation of American and European composers consciously acted on an agreeing and equal aesthetic horizon. Both the set of pieces in programme and the peculiar environmental frame of the concert were fit intentionally for emphasizing the radical aesthetic conceptions of the compositions performed. Cage's choice was highly representative and relapsed into those works of his recent catalogue that more than any other was pushed on the way of a conscious neutralization of compositive intention. The Duo which opens the concert significantly consists of the parts for flute and viola excerpted from his celebrated 'Concert for Piano and Orchestra'. Cage then completed his participation in the concert, besides performing some unspecified numbers from 'Music for Piano' (the piece that showed him the possibility to de-conceptualize the resort to chance operations transcribing the paper pointal imperfections), also performing two of the three 'Piano Pieces' with which Morton Feldman, in 1954, was reconverted to conventional notation, while preservrarifyingame rarefying qualities his music formerly acquired by means of the systematic adoption of aleatory graphic notations. Juan Hidalgo, Walter Marchetti, and Leopoldo La Rosa on the contrary premiered six compositions purposefully written for this occasion, employing aleatory procedures for the first time in their works. Both Hidalgo and Marchetti wrote a trio and a quartet firstly following a common notational stylization, which provides the spatial distribution of a prearranged, but reversible, sequence of intervals within a flexible temporal grid, structured fixing each subsequent time limit. Curiously, those procedures forerun the so-called 'temporal-brackets' technique that Cage will employ, at the end of a long creative career, in time-structuring his famous 'Number Pieces'. The cyclical alternation between the instrumentally always-heterogeneous ensemble works and the slight sonority of the solo piano pieces, was presumably regulated, in fact, by an evident principle of symmetry. More than constituting a restriction, a so rigid performing frame plausibly acted as an efficacious form of conjugation in strict connection with the environmental space. Exploiting the circular architectonic structure of the concert hall all the performers were spread abroad among the audience, with the piano exactly in the centre. According to Cage, in the integration of the physical space into the performing process one can recognizes a basic requisite that consented to transform music composition in an unforeseen event in which the physical separation of the performers allows the sounds to issue from their own centers and to interpenetrate in a way which is not obstructed by the conventions of European harmony and theory about relationships and interferences of sounds. At a distance of only few months since Cage described with these words -- in one of the three lectures given in Darmstadt then collected under the title 'Composition as Process' -- one of the distinctive features of his conception of an experimental work, the concert at Pellegrini's 'Rotonda' perhaps represented the first concrete opportunity to verify and extend these same concepts. So, not only the concert at Pellegrini's 'Rotonda' was characterized by the performance of works that accepted the indeterminacy as their own operative premise, but also for having been a collective event in which the individual contribution of each composer, the strict succession of the works without solution of continuity, the dislocation of the sound sources in the space, mutually acted as autonomous elements, but interrelated in the comprehensive design of their concordant dimensioning in the environment. The edition includes a 36 pages essay with photos and full documentation of the event."