The Art of David Tudor is a new 7 CD boxed set released from the ever great New World Records. The most exciting release IMO since their epic Music for Merce. Of course while there was much music of interest to me on Music for Merce it was the David Tudor pieces, especially the unreleased material, that was particularly of interest. In my series of posts covering that box set I time and time again bemoaned that the bulk of the Tudor pieces were only excerpts and more than once mentioned that there should be a boxed set of his pieces. Miraculously New World has provided. This set can now be ordered, though I’m not sure if it’s in anybodies hands yet. It will apparently be available for download on at least iTunes though the link is not currently active. However the liner notes for the set are currently available (major props to New World for putting these online – makes quotes and such from them a lot easier) and I’ve given it a looksee. So before I have this set in hand let us consider what we are going to be getting.
The Art of David Tudor
Variations II (John Cage)
For 1, 2, or 3 People (Christian Wolff)
Bandoneon ! (A Combine) (David Tudor)
Anima Pepsi (David Tudor)
Pepsibird (David Tudor)
Pepscillator (David Tudor)
Mesostics re Merce Cunningham/Untitled (John Cage, David Tudor)
Weatherings (David Tudor)
Phonemes (David Tudor)
Rainforest IV (David Tudor)
Webwork (David Tudor)
Rainforest IV (David Tudor)
Virtual Focus (David Tudor)
Neural Network Plus (David Tudor)
Quite a few of these pieces have been previously released either in whole or in excerpt. But these pieces were performed live and often performed with the Merce Cunnigham Dance Company or in concerts and due to the nature of live electronics can be quite variable. So in the cases where there are new performances or different versions it is certainly a cause for celebration. The full versions of the pieces released only in excerpts are of course especially welcome. Let us now consider each of these pieces in brief.
Variations II can be heard on the David Tudor Edition RZ set plus a different version on vol. 1 of the John Cage Shock set from EM Records, Edition Omega Point. This version is from the ONCE Festival and is I believe a third recording of the piece. I’m all for more versions of this piece as they all vary due to the nature of working with feedback.
For 1, 2, or 3 People is currently available on Edition RZ’s Christian Wolff set as well as an excerpt on the Music for Merce set. These two versions are the same IIRC and this one is listed as also from tour with the Merce Cunningham Dance company. So could be the same one or a different performance.
Bandoneon ! (A Combine) This has been released in excerpt on the DVD documentary series on the E.A.T. 9 Evenings series. This is not listed here as an excerpt but at just over 14 minutes it almost certainly is. In my review of the DVD I note that the length of the performance is not known, but I do go into the available data. This is a longer excerpt than found on the DVD by about 5 minutes which is welcome, but one still awaits the full piece.
Anima Pepsi was released on the album Live Electronic Music (Electronic Music Foundation) and this appears to be the same version (both are 23’37” which is a pretty good clue).
Pepsibird & Pepscillator These two pieces were along with Anima Pepsi were recorded at Recorded in the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan but only Anima Pepsi has been released. So these are two new tracks that presumably will be in a similar vein of Anima Pepsi.
Mesostics re Merce Cunningham/Untitled Untitled, a definitive Tudor composition, has been released in a couple of forms but was originally performed with John Cage’s vocal performance of Mesostics re Merce Cunningham. As far as I know this version has not been released (a version with Takehisa Kosugi on vocals is on the album Three Works For Live Electronics released by Lovely Music).
Weatherings This was released in excerpt on the Music for Merce set and assuming this is an entire performance, this would be the first complete recording of this piece.
Phonemes This was released in excerpt on the Music for Merce set and a complete version can be found on Three Works For Live Electronics released by Lovely Music. However this is a full live performance of the piece, whereas the Three Works For Live Electronics version is a layered version of many recordings. So this will be a full, live, single version which is a welcome addition to the recordings of this piece.
Rainforest IV There are two versions of Rainforest IV on this set both credited to Composers Inside Electronics during the period when Tudor was performing with them (they are still a going concern). As Rainforest IV is a sculpture based piece that was constructed anew on numerous occasions and thus was often different this is certainly justified. However the Rainforest pieces are of course Tudor’s most well know and most well documented. Mode has a disc with Rainforest IV (as well as Rainforest I) on it and there was an German instance of the installation in 1980 which has been released on an LP by Edition Block and on CD by Lovely. One of the versions of on this set is this German installation the other from a Stockholm version. While most likely the German versions are all from the same source it could be a different excerpt or even a different recording. The Stockholm one appears to be a new release.
Webwork – This was presented in excerpt form on Music for Merce so a complete performance is of course highly anticipated. This has only otherwise been released as a 7? excerpt on the John Cage tribute CD A Chance Operation.
Virtual Focus This very interesting piece excerpted on Music for Merce so a complete performance is definitely a huge plus here. There has otherwise been unreleased barring a 3? of excerpt on Musicworks 73.
Neural Network Plus Again excerpted on Music for Merce but in this set a whole disc is dedicated to a 55″ version. While Lovely Music has put out a double CD of the related Neural Sythesis pieces and Atonal Records put out a disc split between Neural Synthesis No.2 and a Cage piece this is the only recording of Neural Network Plus which includes Kosugi on violin. Even the extract was intense and wild so really can’t wait for this complete performance
Basically the pieces from Expo ’70 are the most novel of the set but the complete performances of the later live electronics pieces are of course the big draw. There is still quite a bit from David Tudor’s oeuvre that is still unavailable. His first piece, Fluorescent Sound is of course the first one that springs to mind (though perhaps no recording exists) but just scan through his list of compositions on DavidTudor.org and you can see that many are not represented here or anywhere. One hopes that of those that recordings exist that some day these will come out in some form. With all the variation and iteration in his live performances one hopes that in the future these will all be available for download. This is I think the direction that any music that is so varied in performance needs to. It is a shame that these recordings just languish in vaults. Still I can’t wait to get this set and and it is a vital edition to the David Tudor legacy. I commend New World for putting it out and will write more here once I’ve had a chance to absorb it.