Search - John Cage: Chess Pieces; Sonatas and Interludes; Rieti: Chess Serenade on DVD

John Cage: Chess Pieces; Sonatas and Interludes; Rieti: Chess Serenade
John Cage Chess Pieces Sonatas and Interludes Rieti Chess Serenade
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2006     2hr 52min

Performed by pianist Margaret Leng Tan, a popular specialist in Cage's music, this is the first recording of the previously lost Chess Pieces (1944). Features many extras, including a lengthy bio of Tan.


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Movie Details

Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: DTS, Classical, Documentary
Studio: Mode
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/21/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 52min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: French, German, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Beauty hiding (in plain sight)
BB | Whitmore Lake, MI USA | 04/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Artistic myth-making loves the notion of a long-overlooked genius, discovered at the last minute or even posthumously. A variation of this myth comes alive with this recording. The refugee intelligentsia artists in New York during the WWII era loved chess, to the point where Julien Levy, gallery owner and friend to the surrealists, organized an exhibit to display the "Imagery of Chess." John Cage was among those invited to submit, and he contributed one of his very few paintings, "Chess Pieces." The painting was bought (for less than what would now be three or four tanks of gas) and made part of a private collection. At that time, it was assumed (why? we have to wonder) that the musical notes arranged on the painted chessboard were only design elements, not "real music."

Some sixty years later a curator located the painting and began to wonder if the notes were indeed a playable piece. One piano expert demurred, but Cage expert Margaret Leng Tan (subject of a recent documentary, the aptly titled "Sorceress of the New Piano")transcribed it (with the aid of a fragmentray manuscript in a Cage archive), and the short piece is presented here for the first time. And it is beautiful: symmetrical, with harmonies that hint at dissonance, but don't fight against the listeners' enjoyment. Also on this disk are one of Cage's most impressive prepared piano pieces, "Sonatas and Interludes," and the only other score contributed to the original exhibit, Vittorio Rieli's "Chess Serenade."

The format to buy is the DVD. The painting is exhibited (and, in what may be a bit of staged drama for us fans, Margaret Leng Tan shows the curator Cage's signature on the painting, something he had overlooked), and the entire story is told in detail. Tan, as usual genuinely admiring but never subservient to any composer, gives a detailed account of her efforts and, in another presentation, shows how to prepare a prepared piano. Both visually and musically, this is a truly 5-star experience."