During his tenure at Kawai, Mannino has prepared pianos
for innumerable concerts as well as piano competitions such as the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition, the William Kapell International Piano Competition and the International Institute for Young Musicians International Piano Competition.
Cage's compositions include "Dances for Two Prepared Pianos
,'' which has instructions for 200 hardware store-type items to be placed between the strings of two pianos, and " 4'33'' '' where the performer(s) oversee four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.
During the 1950s, the available repertoire widened to include the aforementioned Dial recording of Sonatas and interludes; the masterful Three Dances for two prepared pianos (1944-45), performed by Ajemian and William Masselos and released as Disc Company of America 643-648 (three mono 78 rpm shellac phonodiscs) in 1950; and a release by the New Music String Quartet performing his String Quartet in Four Parts (1949-50) on Columbia (ML 4495) in 1953.
But, as I will argue, the chronological development of his discography illustrates his troubling reception as a composer: in particular, the canard that his percussion and prepared piano music remains his most important.
Searching by performer name in Chaudon's discography, for example, shows that Maro Ajemian's 1950 recording of what is perhaps Cage's most important early work, the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1946-48), was released three times: on Dial Records 19 and 20 (1951), CRI SD 199 (1965), and Harmonia Mundi HMO 34730 and HM 730 (1980?
The lion's share of the program was taken up with such early works as selections from the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1945-48), The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs (1942), and the First Construction (in Metal) (1939); his chance music was represented by two small works from 1952 (Music for Carillon No.
Two releases of the Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1951) appeared in 1968, the first by Yuji Takahashi and the Buffalo Philharmonic conducted by Lukas Foss (Nonesuch Records H-71202), the second by Toshi Ichiyanagi and the Japan Philharmonic and an unknown conductor (RCA Victor SJX 1003).
Joshua Pierce began issuing a recording of all the prepared piano works in the late 1970s; recordings of the same works appeared on various labels (including Tomato TOM-2-1001, 1977); Wergo reissued the early recordings in the early 1990s as part of a series of CDs devoted to all of Cage's earlier piano music.
Their ongoing "Dancing Cage" project has commissioned composers to write for the two prepared pianos as used in Cage's "Three Dances.
At the end of a concert featuring the prepared pianos, Williams has found that audience members are keen to come up on stage and take a look at the instruments and the arranged objects within.