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This intriguing disc interlaces the four parts of John Cage’s Music of Changes with pairs of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. Presumably, it was Pi-Hsien Chen’s idea, though there is no clue here as to her thinking. Instead, Christopher Fox’s teasing notes suggest it’s a disc of ‘connections and disconnections’, the only real connection being that Cage and Scarlatti were both radical experimentalists, albeit 200 years apart. Still, perhaps a raison d’être doesn’t matter: as Cage once said, ‘sounds don’t worry about whether they make sense’. Pi-Hsien Chen is an accomplished pianist, steeped in 18th and 20th century repertoires, and she knows how to treat their different sounds with the appropriate respect. The Music of Changes was Cage’s first composition made using the I Ching, so I asked the oracle to comment on this daring Cage/Scarlatti juxtaposition. Its reply was the hexagram, Ch’ien: ‘Creative actions bring sublime success.’ So, a hit!

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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