Charles Ives: Piano Trio and John Cage, Music for Three

Bärtschi had a duo with the very young cellist Wen-Sinn Yang, born in Switzerland, later solo cellist with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, today soloist and professor in Munich. It was therefore only natural to perform and record the trio in this formation. We had particular fun with the middle movement of the trio, a truly berserk piece, seemingly chaotic, in reality perfectly composed, like a natural phenomenon even today. TSIAJ is the movement: “This Scherzo is a Joke.” Ives knew quite well that not all Scherzi are funny, and that’s where the seemingly tautological joke lies; it fits in with his critical attitude towards European fine arts music.

Cage was added quite naturally. This work sounds different each time, as each of the musicians has to complete certain elements within time windows that are indicated by a stopwatch. That is the way of life… Everyone is bound in his own destiny and his own time, but everyone can also make contact with others. Within these time windows there is room for interpretation and you can decide when and how to play the – sometimes very demanding – figures, depending on how you feel and how you want to correspond with what is happening to your partners: How do they feel, where are they, and how do I respond? Do I enter into opposition, dialogue, confirmation? Or do I go my own way? Each time it is a profound experience within the seemingly endless empty spaces that one traverses. We played the recording according to Cage’s intention in the first and only thirty-minute take in a studio of Bayerischer Rundfunk.

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