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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > John Cage – Chess Pieces; Sonatas & Interludes/Vittorio Rieti – Chess Serenade (Classical Music DVD-Video)

John Cage – Chess Pieces; Sonatas & Interludes/Vittorio Rieti – Chess Serenade (Classical Music DVD-Video)

 

Picture: C     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Films: B-

 

 

Is there a way to explore the complex game of chess musically?  Chess has been used as a measurement of intelligence in The Cold War, development of Artificial Intelligence and exploration of human intelligence all the way to Science Fiction and the top universities of the world.  John Cage – Chess Pieces; Sonatas & Interludes/Vittorio Rieti – Chess Serenade offers two pieces that explore the ideas in musical terms that are more complex than they may first seem.

 

Margaret Leng Tan plays the pieces on camera at their full length for posterity and so we can hear them in full.  I do not know if any of the pieces added up to any direct answers about chess and humans, but they at the least are explorations that offer a generic corpus about the game to explore with a musical starting point that may amount to something unexpected later.  In addition, I was recently reminded that the way chess moves are explained and noted have changed since the 1960s and Cage wrote this piece back in 1944.  It might just make a fine reference point at that.

 

The 1.33 X 1 full frame image has more breakup than one would like in all cases, despite being a set of simple static shots of Tan’s piano playing.  It is in color and watchable despite this.  The sound is here in PCM 2.0 96/24 CD Stereo, as well as 5.0 Dolby Digital and DTS 5.0, all of which are good, but limited in surrounds and the absolute clarity we have heard in most such Mode releases.  Extras include a 24 page booklet and paper insert in the DVD case and three related documentary pieces to enhance the history and content of the music.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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