Cage Performs Cage represents Mode Records' 41st installment in its Complete John Cage Edition. Empty Words with Music for Piano is the simultaneous performance of excerpts from two works, Empty Words (1973-1974) and Music for Piano, written 40 years earlier. The complete version of Empty Words uses a text by Thoreau and lasts 10 hours, and this 30-minute fragment comes from the third and final part, in which the texts are reduced to single letters and silences, so there is no syntactic meaning. Music for Piano, of which Yvar Mikhashoff plays part of the second section, consists of single, isolated sounds. The result is a spare and delicate counterpoint of notes and vocalizations, sometimes with a great deal of silence between events. Cage wrote One7 in 1990 as a gift for Pauline Oliveros. Its austerity makes Empty Words with Music for Piano seem effusive in comparison. It primarily consists of silence, very sporadically interrupted by Cage making a vocalization. Its effect is much like that of 4'33" in that the attentive listener will primarily be hearing ambient sound, with the added element of anticipating a rare utterance by Cage. Some listeners may not find much of substance here, but for those intrigued by the Cageian aesthetic, this disc is a valuable document of the composer's take on his own work. The sound is very clean.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins