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Sabine Liebner’s enterprising disc alternates works by Henry Cowell and his ex-student John Cage. This set-up encourages numerous amiable conversations that range across their different approaches to the piano – as string instrument, as percussion instrument – and their various musical affinities, from Irish to Oriental. The CD’s 14 titles, composed between 1912 and 1948, cover a fertile period of pianistic experimentation that encompassed Cowell’s introduction of tone clusters (The Tides of Manuanuan) and his ‘string’ piano (Aeolian Harp, Sinister Resonance), as well as Cage’s development of the prepared piano (Primitive, The Perilous Night). Liebner employs a wonderfully nuanced control of dynamics to subtly enhance this spectrum of strangely beautiful sounds, her poetic touch extending from the eerie shrieks of Cowell’s The Banshee to Cage’s hushed Dream.

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