Boomkat Product Review:
Aisha Orazbayeva and Naomi Sato link up for this richly textured reading of John Cage´s Two4, a late work from the composer's series of Number Pieces. The release follows recent records from SN Variations featuring music by Giacinto Scelsi, Adrian Corker and Chris Watson among others.
Steady, crystalline tones emanate from Naomi Sato's shō - a Japanese wind instrument associated with gagaku court music, and one of the few non-Western instruments that Cage wrote explicitly for. In contrast, Orazbayeva brings out the violin's fragile grain with the soft scraping of horsehair and the interplay of upper partials.
Like all of Cage´s work from the early 1950s onwards, the Number Pieces were composed using chance procedures, in an attempt to free music from the composerly impulse to order and fixity.
The Number Pieces occupied Cage throughout the last six years of his life, and are marked by the use of time brackets: simple fragments of music with timings indicating when, in the overall composition, they should begin and end. In Two4 (as in the majority of the series) these timings are flexible, to be determined by the musician either in performance or, again, through chance procedures.
In Two4, the fragments are often no more than a single note. The interaction of sounds becomes highly unpredictable: at some points violin and shō mesh in a kind of brief unity, while elsewhere they seem to drift serenely past, or through, each other. Throughout, sounds spill out like ink on blotting paper, surrounded by pregnant silence.
Other recent projects from Aisha Orazbayeva include performances at Oslo's Only Connect (with Tim Etchells) and Copenhagen's Klang festival (with Plus Minus) as well as recording Morton Feldman's Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello for forthcoming release on Another Timbre.”