John Cage: Thirteen Harmonies (1985)

John Cages Thirteen Harmonies, for violin and keyboard (1985) is from the CD; Melodies & Harmonies, recorded September 29-30, 2009, Amann Studios, Vienna. The Thirteen Harmonies is a selction of 13 out of a total of 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776. Roger Zahab made the selection and created a version for violin and keyboard.

For this disc of music by John Cage for violin and keyboard, Annelise Gahl and Klaus Lang have intermingled the movements of two works, Six Melodies from 1950 and Thirteen Harmonies from 1985. Six Melodies grew out of the same impulse as Cage´s seminal String Quartet in Four Parts, and the composer described the melodies as a postscript to the quartet. With Cage’s approval, composer and violinist Roger Zahab arranged the Thirteen Harmonies from movements of Cage’s Forty-Four Harmonies, part of his 1976 composition, Apartment House 1776, for voices and instruments. The melodies used are hymn tunes by American composers of the Revolutionary period, such as William Billings, Supply Belcher, Andrew Law and James Lyon, and Zahab selected 13 in recognition of the 13 original colonies. Although the two works are from very different creative periods in Cage´s career, they are similar enough in style that they beautifully fit together, particularly in the ordering that violinist Gahl and keyboardist Lang give them. The movements from the two works have lengths from about a minute to 13 minutes. The Harmonies are distinguishable largely because the original hymn tunes are presented with unadorned directness, but otherwise many of the movements from the two works are similar in tone — meditative, introverted, gentle, and optimistic, unfolding with Feldmanesque openness and unpredictability. [read more]

The selected Harmonies are:
1. Nr.18 – Old North (William Billings) (2.32)
2. Nr.42 – Rapture (Collection Belcher) (2:29)
3. Nr.26 – Judea (William Billings) (0:47)
4. Nr.21 – Heath (William Billings) (2:18)
5. Nr.19 – New York (Andrew Law) (4:05)
6. Nr.5 – The Lord Descended (William Billings) (13:09)
7. Nr.11 – Wheeler’s Point (William Billings) (1:06)
8. Nr.14 – Brunswick (James Lyon) (0:46)
9. Nr.15 – Bellingham (William Billings) (1:15)
10. Nr.28 – Greenwich (Andrew Law) (6:38)
11. Nr.35 – Framingham (William Billings) (3:39)
12. Nr.38 – The Lord is Ris’n (William Billings) (4:38)
13. Nr.44 – Bloomfield (Andrew Law) (1:00)

Annelie Gahl – violin
Klaus Lang – keyboards (Fender Rhodes)

John Cage | Annelie Gahl, Klaus Lang | Melodies & Harmonies| Released 2010 | col legno – WWE 1CD 20292


John Cage, New York City, 1985. Photo by Chris Felver.


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