Paul Schmidt / Essential Music
A deluxe set in a slipcase with extensive notes and complete libretto.
The City Wears a Slouch Hat
Radio play for actors and “sound orchestra” to a text by Kenneth Patchen (1942)
Featuring Paul Schmidt as “The Voice”, with a large ensemble of actors
Fads and Fancies from the Academyfor piano and percussionists (1940)
A Chant with Claps
for voice and claps
One of the most anxiously awaited Cage releases so far, The Lost Works contains the first commercialrecording of one of John Cage’s historically important and enigmatic works–The City Wears a SlouchHat from 1942. The Lost Works is completed with first recordings of two other unpublished Cagescores from the 1940s, one considered lost, the other completely unknown.
The City Wears a Slouch Hat is one of those Cage works that many know about, but few haveactually heard. Commissioned by CBS’ “Columbia Workshop” to accompany a radio play by “Beat”poet/writer Kenneth Patchen–a surreal script centered around a mysterious drifter known as “TheVoice” and his encounters with various characters of the urban landscape. Cage’s music aptly fitsPatchen’s texts, scored for “sound orchestra” of 5 percussionists along with live and recorded soundeffects, revealing Cage’s gift for orchestrating the timbres of percussion. One can only imagine whatunsuspecting families, seated around the radio for an evening’s entertainment, made of thisbizarre script and rambunctious music in 1942!
Fads and Fancies from the Academy (1940) was unknown prior to 1992. Written for a dance at MillsCollege, it joins his early dance scores for piano and percussion. Its programattic design is unusualfor Cage, containing parodies of children’s song and popular music with a satirical sense of humorand especially, some of his most rhapsodic piano writing.
A Chant with Claps, presumed from the late 1940s, is inscribed with a dedication to HenryCowell’s wife Sidney, apparently given on the occasion of a party as a anniversary present. Ahumorous chant for vocalist with hand-clap accompaniment, it is presumed to be from the late 1940s.
Essential Music is a New Music ensemble with a strong emphasis on percussion and a tradition ofperforming Cage’s works. They researched and reconstructed the performance manuscript of Slouch Hatfor their New York concert premiere. Without their dedication, these works might still be “lost”.
Actor/writer Paul Schmidt has performed words and music for 20 years: melodramas from the 18thcentury to the present with pianist Yvar Mikhashoff, theater works by Luciano Berio and more. He has worked on librettos for Tom Waits and Robert Wilson (Alice and The Black Rider) and Elizabeth Swados, and translated Arthur Rimbaud’s complete works.