Rodney Sharman – Remembering John Cage (2019)
for English horn and piano doubling toy piano
Peter Veale, english horn
Ulrich Löffler, piano/toy piano
Janet Sinica, video/editing
Jan Böyng, editing
Wolfgang Ellers, recording producer/editing
This video is released long after it has been produced. That in itself is not a peculiarity. At least not so in our case. And yet the reasons here are different.
Watching this video of Rodney Sharman’s “Remembering John Cage” with Uli for the first time touched us deeply. The fact that there are several more videos in the making is a wonderful gift for us. Thank you, Uli!
Rodney Sharman and I both studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg at the beginning of the 80’s. We were both involved in many fascinating projects at that time. When Rod contacted me in 2021 asking me whether I would be interested in performing a piece involving cor anglais and piano with toy piano I was immediately totally interested. I also thought how well that would suit our pianist Uli Löffler who had always devotedly performed Cages compositions utilizing toy piano. It was a challenging task combining the very diverse sounds of these instruments but the result and the piece moved me a lot.
Remembering John Cage (2019) was commissioned by Duo Ebano (Marco Danesi, clarinet, Paolo Gorini, piano & toy piano) and exists in versions for clarinet, English horn, and a new version for 5-string violin & electric keyboard/toy piano adapted especially for Hannah Weirich and Ulrich Löffler. John Cage (1912-1992) may have been the first to write concert music for toy piano in the 1940s. This piece remembers him through the toy piano’s nostalgic timbre along with the deceptive simplicity and calm found in some of Cage’s early work. As an object onstage can be lit from different angles, changing appearance according to the direction of the light, so too the “frozen” rising and falling notes of the harmonic series, which appear to change depending on surrounding harmonies in the violin and keyboard parts.