SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
JOHN CAGE: Two3, Inlets, Two4 – Christina Fong, violin/ Glenn Freeman, conch shells. -OgreOgress productions
Published on October 8, 2010
JOHN CAGE: Two3, Inlets, Two4 – Christina Fong, violin/ Glenn Freeman, conch shells. – OgreOgress productions, DVD-audio, 2:37:32. *½:
Just about everything misfires in this DVD-Audio disc from OgreOgress productions. First, there are the pieces. They’re definitely not vintage Cage. Two3 has odd instrumentation, not necessarily a bad start: conch shells and a shō, an ancient Japanese free-reed musical instrument. (Alan Hovhaness also composed two works for this instrument.) I find the piece extremely monotonous and devoid of feeling (probably Cage’s intentions); at best it is a fleeting work of ambient noise, but one lacking the tonal variation, irony, or sly commentary of much of his other work. It also features long annoying pauses.
Inlets sounds like an electronic piece imitating water gurgling from a ten-gallon Poland Springs jug. This goes on for several minutes, then is interrupted by a shō for about eight seconds. It’s amusing for sixty seconds, but at seven minutes it’s way too long. Two5 ends the disc (at the 2.5 hour mark), not sounding much different from Two3 except for the addition of Christina Fong’s violin. There’s not a whole lot of meat here, mostly wispy feathers of sound. If you’re searching for trenchant program notes, there are some to be found in the inner lining of the paper case. Unfortunately, Rob Haskings’ prose is cast in hard-to-read, white-against-black, six-point type. A magnifying glass doesn’t help because the text block is four times as wide as customary. Such Dadaist design may be rebellious, but it’s ultimately user-unfriendly and hurts the eyes. Why be difficult when you’re trying to communicate truths about difficult works? To his credit, Freeman performs and engineers this work well, infusing it with excellent sound. But I wonder: does it deserve it?
— Peter Bates