Review Satie/Cage: Cabaret per Nulla

Satie – Cage
Cabaret per Nulla

Sabina Meyer, voice
Marco Dalpane, piano/prepared piano

Ants Records AG-13

Pairing Erik Satie with John Cage is a good fit. In his collection of writings, Silence, John Cage tells us: “It’s not a question of Satie’s relevance. He’s indispensable.” (Silence p.82).

I’ve been playing Satie/Cage piano programmes since the early 80s and I’m far from being the only one. John Cage’s early piano music is easy to describe as Satiesque.

But this CD takes a step further and plays a very pleasing game. To stage a Cabaret for Nothing suggests DADA but there’s more to the album (a programme perhaps) than that. Sabina Meyer’s style is very enjoyable and varies widely from a light delivery in some of the Satie songs which reminds me of Hugues Cuenod’s recording of Socrate with Geoffrey Parsons (Nimbus NI 5027), to a unique, dramatic performance of Cage’s Aria. The liner notes tell us Marco Dalpane “plays [Cage] the way Cage thought Satie ought to be played.” Somehow, listening to the recordings, I know what that means! Definitely a Satiesque Cage.

Meyer and Dalpane really ‘get’ Satie. It takes a very particular sense of humour to get the seriousness of Satie’s humour, and I feel I’m hearing that on this CD.

I love this CD and it’s now in my top 7 Cage and Satie recordings. I’ll be returning to it many times. In addition to this, my top 7 also includes:

Erik Satie, Le Fils des Etoiles, Christopher Hobbs. London HALL docu 1
Erik Satie arr. John Cage, Socrate (version for two pianos), Dezső Ránkí and Edít Klukon. BMC 100.
John Cage, Sonatas and Interludes, John Tilbury. Explore Records (Re-release of 1975 recording) EXP0004
Erik Satie, Socrate, Hugues Cuenod and Geoffrey Parsons. Nimbus NI 5027
John Cage, 3 Compositions by John Cage, Teodoro Anzellotti (accordian). Winter & Winter No 910 080-2
Erik Satie, Works by Erik Satie, Teodoro Anzellotti (accordian). Winter & Winter No 910 031-2

Cabaret per Nulla is available from the Ants Records website:

Here is an excerpt on SoundCloud of John Cage’s The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs:

Review Satie/Cage: Cabaret per Nulla

Christopher Wood (1911 – 1990)

I studied piano with Christopher Wood in 1981 and 1982 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I’ve struggled until recently to find any mention of him online. He was a wonderful composer, teacher and performer. I attended recitals he gave at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle which were always a pleasure. Now I’ve discovered the following pdf referring to a collection of manuscripts and other items in the library of Trinity Laban Conservatoire which includes the following biography:

“Christopher Wood began his musical career as a chorister at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. He studied music at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, where Boris Ord was one of his teachers, and then at the RCM, under Herbert Howells, Gordon Jacobs and Arthur Benjamin. In the summer vacations he studied conducting at the Salzburg Mozarteum with Clemens Krauss, Bruno Walter and Herbert von Karajan. His principal piano teacher was Adelina de Lara, a pupil of Clara Schumann and Brahms. He studied the harpsichord with Rudolphe Dolmetsch and Dorothy Swainson.
Wood had a lifelong career in music as both teacher and performer. As a harpsichordist, he played a part in the early music revival. He was a friend of the Dolmetsch family and played in the Haslemere Festival from 1947 onwards. Several of his own compositions are for viols or the recorder.
From 1947 to 1967 he was on the staff of Trinity College of Music, where he taught piano, harpsichord, orchestration, harmony and counterpoint. For much of his life he lectured in adult and further education, latterly in Newcastle-on-Tyne.
He made recordings of the Bach Harpsichord Concertos and the Handel Suites and produced editions of baroque sonatas for several publishers.
His only published composition is his Third Piano Sonata (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1943), but he was a prolific composer writing across a wide variety of genres, from piano solos to opera.
In 2001, Trinity College of Music received the present collection which, in addition to the autograph scores of most of his works, includes much biographical and documentary material.
Rosemary Firman Chief Librarian
October 2002”

The whole pdf can be downloaded with this link:

Christopher Wood (1911 – 1990)

Organ and Silence by Tom Johnson. Review.

Some time ago some CDs arrived from Ants Records. Ants Records’ output is diverse and always fascinating. Here is a brief look at one of those CDs:

Composer Tom Johnson’s Organ and Silence (2000) performed by Wesley Roberts. I found this had an ‘edge of the seat’ quality throughout. Fragments, or bursts of activity, of organ sound are alternated with periods of silence. (sound and silence equally part of the music, of course). The regular pattern of sound and silence sets up some sense of certainty and an equivalent sense of anticipation.

We’ve had decades now to process and absorb the role, in music, of silence as a presence rather than an absence, but there are so many ways in which this understanding can be expressed or used. I’m making reference here to John Cage’s non-silent 4’33” of 1952 of course.

In Tom Johnson’s Organ and Silence I’m hearing music related to the late (1980s) piano music of Morton Feldman and from my point of view as a composer bridges a space between Feldman’s late piano works and my own Waterways of Lincoln composition projects begun in 2012, especially 5 Nocturnes and 5 Diurnes.

I hope these few brief comments engourage people to check this out as I highly recommend this CD. The notes on the linked page are probably clearer than my own. Ants Records:

Organ and Silence on Ants website

Organ and Silence by Tom Johnson. Review.