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Four4  (Allen / Burn / Patterson / Wastell): John Cage (Another Timbre)

Four percussionists perform John Cages's 1991 numbered work "Four4" in four movements using flexible time brackets in a sensitive and authoritative rendering of this fascinating work.

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product information:

Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at34
Squidco Product Code: 14015

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2010
Country: UK
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded by Simon Reynell in Belsize Park, North London on January 14th, 2010.


Simon Allen-percussion

Chris Burn-percussion

Lee Patterson-percussion

Mark Wastell-percussion

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Artist Biographies:

"Simon Allen is a composer and interpreter of new music using improvisation, computer, pencil and paper with equal measure. As composer and director, his Resonance At The Still Point Of Change for multiple moving images, lighting, voices and ensemble, was premiered as part of the Cultural Olympiad. In performance, film and theatre settings his collaborations include work with John Tilbury, Christian Wolff, Nigel Osborne, David Toop, Katie Mitchell, FOLK///projects and as a member of Swedish based ensemble Skogen, with Magnus Granberg and David Sylvian."

-Hundred Years Gallery (

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"Mark Wastell Born 1968; cello.

Much of Mark Wastell's relationship with his chosen instrument is concentrated on the tactile, textural and sonic possibilities of both violoncello and bow. He is increasingly interested in working with extreme elements drawn from frequency, timbre and pitch.

His early activity was consciously and subconsciously influenced by a variety of improvising musicians including John Stevens, Barry Guy, Phil Durrant and John Russell. Subsequent exposure to contemporary composers lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of the works written for strings by Feldman, Cage, Nono, Lachenmann and Sciarrino. The use of live electronics and music concrete by Tudor, Parmegiani, Xenakis and others was another important early influence.

Wastell's current instrumental material primarily focuses on using abstract principles of space and texture - encompassing elements of new London silence, pro-instrument minimalism, new complexity and electro-acoustics. Because of the very nature of his chosen instrument, he tends to favour 'chamber' style ensembles and is a member of a number of regular groups:

• Chris Burn's Ensemble, with John Butcher, Rhodri Davies, John Russell, Matt Hutchinson

• Derek Bailey's Company - with, for example, Will Gaines, Simon H. Fell and Rhodri Davies

• Evan Parker's String Project, with Peter Cusack, Hugh Davies, Rhodri Davies, Phil Durrant, John Edwards, Kaffe Matthews, Marcio Mattos, John Russell

• Assumed possibilities, with Chris Burn, Rhodri Davies and Phil Durrant

• The Sealed Knot, with Burkhard Beins and Rhodri Davies

• Necessaire with Alessandro Bosetti, Ignaz Schick and Burkhard Beins

• IST with Simon Fell and Rhodri Davies

• Quatuor Accorde with Tony Wren, Phil Durrant and Charlotte Hug

• Broken Concort, a duo with Rhodri Davies

Mark Wastell has also performed with many other leading musicians including John Zorn, Keith Rowe, Peter Kowald, Hugh Davies, Roger Turner, Veryan Weston, Lol Coxhill, Mark Sanders, Axel Dorner, Hans Koch, Phil Minton, Max Eastley and Steve Beresford.

As a soloist he has played at the Micro-classical Festival (London 1996), LMC Festival (London 2000) and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2000). He has travelled extensively with various groups, performing on tour and at festivals in the USA, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Greece. Other work includes the launch in 1996 of his own record label, Confront Recordings. Wastell is also joint co-ordinator of the concert venue All Angels, together with Rhodri Davies."

-European Free Improv (EFI) (

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track listing:

1. Untitled Track 01 20:06

2. Untitled Track 02 17:51

3. Untitled Track 03 19:40

4. Untitled Track 04 16:48
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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"This version of the very late Cage piece for four percussionists (it was composed in 1991, a year before his death) was realised by a quartet of improvisers, at least two of whom perhaps wouldn't immediately strike you as percussionists. The group consist of Simon Allen, a straight percussionist I believe, whose music I have not come across before, Mark Wastell, who plays the tam tam on this disc, percussion with a minimal slant, Chris Burn, who plays the inside piano, albeit it in an often percussive manner, and Lee Patterson, whose sound sources are not detailed but I hear things fizzing in glasses of water and other things burning here, so a percussionist only in a fairly wide sense of the term. This matters not though. Cage's score essentially allows the musicians a fair amount of scope. They get to pick the sounds they use, and with a few chance elements thrown in, they play a small selection of sounds that they chose before hand in time brackets randomly chosen by Cage using a computer programme. So throughout the seventy-two minute long work extended sounds of one kind or another slip and slide across each other, sometimes two or three sounding at once, quite often none sounding at all, and so we get to follow Cage's instruction to just sit and listen until the next sounds arrive.

The thing about this piece, as I find with the majority of Cage's late "Numbers" scores, is that how good it is, or how exciting/beautiful/interesting (delete as appropriate) it may sound is entirely reliant on the advance selections made, firstly the selection of the musicians- a poor quartet with little understanding of the work would sound terrible very easily here, and then the selection of sounds by each musician. Some advance consideration must be made, albeit it perhaps subconsciously, about how the sounds might all fit together. So all of the sounds here are generally either soft, extended, droning choices, or gritty repetitive patterns that add texture, but the occasions when two or more sounds don't fit together nicely are few and far between, though when they do occur they stand out a mile. the sounds here on this new realisation are rich and finely detailed, perhaps not so far from the sounds the musicians usually improvise with.

The sounds are all quite lovely, often hard to assign to any one of the quartet, but they glow with a warmth that gives the CD a feeling of slow, methodical beauty. There are several lengthy silences in there as well, and coming between the little gusts of acoustic sound they are always a welcome breather from the storm. These 'silences' or rather, opportunities to just listen are often quite long, and sometimes feel unexpected, but such if the random nature for the composition. The element of surprise is what makes this kind of composition realisation so intriguing.

So, this isn't just a disc for Cage completists. The sounds are often thoroughly beautiful, and where they cross and blend their attraction is only enhanced. The choice of improvisers to create the music allows a flexibility in the sounds, choices made that perhaps would never have been made by a quartet of more traditional contemporary composition musicians. A very nice CD then that brings a fresh look to Cage's numbers pieces."-Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear

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Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
John Cage
Percussion & Drums
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Frey, Jurg / Magnus Granberg
Early to Late
(Another Timbre)
Tippetts, Julie / Mark Wastell
Unraveling The Waterfall
Veliotis, Nikos / Mark Wastell
Live at All Angels
Collusion Duo (Nick Smith / Mark Wastell)
Sealed Knot, The
Trembling Shade
Wastell, Mark
IST (feat. John Zorn)
New York
London: Conway Hall
BEFOREHAND (Lazaridou / Wastell)
Live at Hundred Years Gallery
Broken Consort
Wastell, Mark
Caressed On The Brow By Unseen Hands
Sealed Knot, The
All Angels
Sealed Knot, The
Oceans of Silver & Blood
Oceans of Silver & Blood
Ist (Davies / Fell / Wastell)
Consequences (of Time and Place)
Davis, Matt / Phil Durrant / Mark Wastell
Confront Collectors Series
Ist (Davies / Fell / Wastell)
Davis, Matt & Mark Wastell
Derby 11.05.2002 / Liverpool 10.05.2002
Sealed Knot, The
Live at the Red Hedgehog
Sealed Knot, The
Unwanted Object
Ist (Davies / Fell / Wastell)
Sealed Knot, The (Beins / Davies / Wastell)
and we disappear
(Another Timbre)
Oceans of Silver and Blood
Live at Cafe Oto
Akiyama / Nakamura / Sugimoto / Wastell
Davies / Bohman / Patterson / Wastell
For Hugh Davies
(Another Timbre)
Various Artists
That Mysterious Forest Below London Bridge
Scotch Of St James, The
Live at Amplify 2004
Davis, Matt / Phil Durrant / Mark Wastell
Brown, Earle
Chamber Music
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