July 19, 2012
by Andrew Clements
This is the 45th release in Mode’s John Cage series, and the second to be devoted to his works for percussion.
It includes what are perhaps the best known of all early Cage works, the three Constructions that he composed between 1939 and 1941, alongside other pieces from the same period – the Quartet and the Trio, from 1935 and 1936 respectively, and Living Room Music of 1940. Performing this repertoire has been the raison d’etre for Third Coast Percussion since the Chicago-based group formed in 2004, and these performances have a special fluency and zest that sets them apart from most other recorded versions. The way in which Cage’s sound world steadily expands through the three Constructions – the first for metallic instruments only, the last for a huge range of familiar and exotic percussion – is vividly exploited, while the rhythmic cycles that are so rigorously layered in all three become a means to an exuberant end. The rest of the disc pales by comparison with these extraordinary pieces, but even the tiny Trio from 1936 has a wit and charm about it here.