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APOCALYPTIC PASSACAGLIA ON THEME

BY JOHN CAGE


2008



Commissioned as a set piece for the PENDIM International Competition for Percussionists, May 2009


 

For Snare Drum solo (with video application)


Completed: 09.10.2008


Duration: c.a. 6 min.


Published by HoneyRock Publishers, USA - click here



PAS Review


Apocalyptic Passacaglia on a Theme by John Cage

by Martin Georgiev


Published by HoneyRock


This is a challenging work for solo snare drum and “videoscape.” It was written as a competition piece for the International Competition for Percussion Instruments (PENDIM 2009) in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. According to the publisher, the work is inspired by “the musical work of John Cage and the artist Lucio Fontana, as well as contemporary geo-political events.”

Constantly shifting time signatures create a Passacaglia with a curiously silent theme. The repetitions of this metric structure are the variations. Weaving through shifting meters and exacting timbral exploration are marked difficulties in performance. The dynamic and rhythmic energy come to an abrupt silence at the golden section, at which time the player is asked to whisper a prayer in Latin. Curiously, it is the syllabic structure of the text that makes up the “silent” Passacaglia metric structure through the work. The composer suggests this is an “‘amplification’ of a hidden quality of the theme, reflecting Cage’s original intention to compose his 4’33” piece as a Silent Prayer.” Set to a click track, a series of flashing images creates the accompanying “videoscape.” The composer suggests a verbal warning for the audience, as the images convey violent or disturbing images.


It is encouraging to see the work of a young composer who is paying attention to global socio-political issues. The work would make a thought provoking addition to any collegiate or professional recital.


—John Lane, Percussive Notes