This historic release of a simultaneous performance by David Tudor and John Cage of Rainforest II and Mureau, recorded live by Radio Bremen on May 5, 1972, preserves the only surviving performance of the second of Tudor’s Rainforest series. In addition, it documents one of the precious few recorded collaborations between these two visionaries.
In 1970 Cage composed the piece called Mureau, in which phrases from Thoreau’s journals (in particular, passages which touch on the subject of music) are used as the springboard for an elaborate collage. The resultant fabric combines elements of sense and nonsense, as it veers between contextual meaning and a sort of abstract, linguistic vocalise. In Cage’s public readings of Mureau, he explored a number of performance variables—differences in tempo, vocal timbre, pitch, register, and dynamics. A similar range will be apparent, in fact, when listening to this recorded performance. This simultaneous performance of Mureau and Rainforest II took place in a large concert hall before an audience, rather than privately in a recording studio. Whereas in other performance realizations (such as their legendary Indeterminacy collaboration) the two men had been placed in separate isolation booths, here the two shared the same performance space, so that each could hear and see the other person’s activity. In fact, Cage and Tudor sat quite close to one another at the center of the stage, Cage performing Mureau as a four-channel realization—one live channel against three pre-recorded tracks, all of them his own voice—and Tudor actively engaged in real-time processing of Cage’s vocal material, using it to generate electronic loudspeaker-filter events. Essential listening for anyone interested in the work of either composer.