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His Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano may have been the work that freed John Cage from his ‘desire to possess sounds (to be able to repeat them)’, teaching him instead to enjoy them ‘as they come, as they happen’. Though he drew up detailed instructions for preparing the piano, initially intending that each performance replicate the specific array of timbral distortions he had created, he soon realised this was impossible in practice, since no two pianos – or pianists – would sound exactly alike. Decisions about the work’s timbral palette had, ultimately, to be left to the discretion of individual performers, and Cage’s acceptance of this marked a major step towards his later adoption of indeterminacy.

So each recording of the Sonatas and Interludes explores its own unique sound world, and the Greek pianist Antonis Anissegos, a specialist in many areas of contemporary music, has prepared his piano to produce a distinctive and intriguing range of sounds. Compared to John Tilbury on his mysterious, intimate 1975 recording (my favourite Sonatas and Interludes), Anissegos can seem declamatory and extrovert at times – yet excitingly so, with his emphatic attack and phrasing complementing a selection of bright, hard, metallic timbres that sound bracingly abrasive next to Tilbury’s gently chimed poetry. Anissegos is particularly strong on the work’s rhythmic underpinnings, hitting an infectious groove in Sonata No 5 and lending a touch of flamboyant swing to Sonata No 12.

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing