Here are some more videos that might tickle your fancy, from the energetic folks at FZML Leipzig. Over the last several days, Leipzig has been celebrating Cage’s 100th birthday (http://www.cage100.com/english/cage100/information/) with their Water Music Project (http://www.cage100.com/english/projects/water-music-project/), in which loads of pianists in a whole load of cities (Addis Ababa, Kiev, Brno, Birmingham (England,not Alabama), Thessaloniki, Bologna, and other places) perform Cage’s Water Music (1952), his first really theatrical piece, which are then streamed to their site and held there and on their YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/FZMLLeipzig?feature=watch).
The performers have taken various approaches to the strictures of the piece, but there are points of interest in all of them. Of special interest to friends of the EMC is EMC’s founder, Chris Hobbs, performing Water Music with his normal, clinical accuracy as to the instructions in the score. Chris first played this piece in the mid-1960s, so he knows it pretty well by now. The Birmingham performance was held at the Ikon Gallery (http://www.ikon-gallery.co.uk/), a wonderful space with vaulted ceilings in the centre of Birmingham, in association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (http://bcmg.org.uk/). So this was really neat to see in person, but it has now been recorded to go into the Leipzig mix. Here it is:
Water Music is not all serious. The range of radio sounds used in response to Cage’s specified frequencies, for instance, is fascinating. We got everything from the evening’s news to the A Team theme in the various versions. The range of toy instruments were cool: the toy trumpet at the end of the Ethiopian performance, by the legendary Girma Yifrashewa was not traditional, but deeply cool:
and Hobbs’ submersion of his duck call in water came out exactly the way we’d expect it to sound had someone drowned Donald Duck. The Lyon performance is best viewed without introduction:
The Leipzig performance, at the Book Fair, literally sets out its stall:
In Kiev, the set-up looks like a conference presentation, but it has snazzy music:
In Bosnia-Herzogovina, the performance is still and serious, with AOR rock:
Finally, both Brno and Thessaloniki prefaced their submissions with travelogue advertorials for their cities, like one gets before contestants perform on the Eurovision Song Contest. Perhaps you could have a home Water Music party, in which you judge your favourite entry, just like Eurovision.* If so, do let us know about it!
At the moment, the Birmingham performance is almost inaudible on YouTube and is not playable on the Leipzig site, but this should be fixed soon. We’re looking forward to collecting the whole set!
*For our non-European friends, that’s the meaning of this post’s title. The judging for this contest always was broadcast through calls to the host city from the participating countries — ‘Hello, London, here are the results of the Belgian jury…’.