John Cage & Margaret Leng Tan, Daughters Of The Lonsome Isle

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Keyboard works from America’s most famous avant garde composer.

Just by inserting screws, rubber erasers and other tidbits between a piano's strings, John Cage (1912-1992) was able to turn the instrument into a miniature percussion orchestra. This was just one of the avant gardist's many innovations. On this disc, keyboardist Margaret Leng Tan, the world's foremost toy piano virtuoso, pays homage to Cage's experiments, his rhythmic vitality and the Zen-inspired spirit that led him to ask profound conceptual questions about music. But even as Cage challenged traditional notions of music, it's not hard to find great beauty, wit, depth and spiritual gentleness in his work as well. It's scarcely possible, for example, not to fall in love with Cage's pulsing, gnomic Bacchanale or the elegiac In the Name of the Holocaust, which proves that the instrument he called a "prepared piano" was just as capable of stark intensity.