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December 13 , 2012

International reactions to Natalia Pschenitschnikova's and Alexei Lubimov's Cage recording "As It Is"

As the year of John Cage’s 100th birthday draws to a close, international media appreciate the unique perspective of Natalia Pschenitschnikova and Alexei Lubimov on early Cage works on their ECM New Series recording "As It Is":

“The flood of releases marking Cage’s centenary continues with this excellent selection of early works played by pianist Alexei Lubimov and singer Natalia Pschenitschnikova, who have been performing his music since the time it outraged the Russian establishment in the ‘60s and ‘70s”, writes Andy Gill in the English daily The Independent. And Andrew Clements from The Guardian remarks that “what emerges most forcefully is the precision of Cage’s aural imagination. Nothing is generalised, and the performances of Lubimov and Pschenitschnikova take immense care over every nuance, without ever sacrificing any of the sense of the music’s shape.”
Reviewer Rick Jones from magazine Words & Music states and demands: “The world was correct that Cage was a genius, but until now for the wrong reasons. This CD provides the right ones. Give it air time on all channels.”
French classical music magazine Diapason honors the recording with its prestigious “Diapason d’Or”, while Eleonore Büning of leading German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is enchanted by both the bell-like sounds Alexei Lubimov creates on prepared piano (“...es tönt, als bummeln Glocken in tiefer See”) as well as Natalia Pschenischnikova’s articulation (“Wie sie mit ihrem dunklen, russischen Akzent so konsonantenreiche Worte wie ‘primarose hair’ oder ‘child of tree’ aufsagt, darin liegt große Zärtlichkeit, auch Wehmut über Verflossenes, das nie mehr wiederkehrt.”)
Chantal Nastasi from German public radio NDR hears a connection to the soundworld of Debussy (“Mit frühen Klavierstücken und Liedern von Cage führen uns Alexei Lubimov und Natalia Pschenitschnikova in eine ganz andere Klangwelt. Sie erinnert an Claude Debussy durch die Leichtigkeit der Musik, die Lubimov mit feinem Anschlag und Farbenreichtum herausarbeitet.“).
And Grego Applegate Edwards, writing for the website Classical Modern Music, summarizes:
“Lubimov, Pschenitschnikova, and producer Manfred Eichner bring out the resonance of these miniatures in ways that stand out. Some have the quirky simplicity of Satie, the prepared piano pieces have a gamelan-like quality often remarked upon but brought to the fore in the ECM production style. Natalia's vocals emphasize the direct simplicity of the vocal lines. Alexei (who championed Cage's music as early as the ‘60s in his native Russia) brings out the exotic and enchanted qualities of the keyboard parts. [...] It is a very well-performed collection of some of his most directly engaging music. And so it is very much recommended”.