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Volume 49 in Mode’s complete John Cage edition features premiere recordings of two recently discovered works for solo piano. Both date from 1950-1951, a crucial period of transition for Cage as he began to integrate silence, chance and Eastern philosophy into his music. Haiku (not to be confused with Seven Haiku, from around the same time) is a set of extremely brief experiments in a haiku-like form that reflects his keen interest in Zen Buddhism. The 50-minute Sixteen Dances, composed for Merce Cunningham, is structured around the nine fundamental emotions of Indian classical aesthetics. One of Cage’s first compositions to employ chance operations, Sixteen Dances was originally published as an orchestral score, but researcher Walter Zimmermann has uncovered a solo piano version that shows Cage still engaged in ‘concrete emotional expression’ even as Boulez was tempting him further into abstraction. Jovita Zähl plays this delightful ‘music of transition’ with quiet authority. (Two alternate takes include Meixner’s percussion.)

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing