Topical nominations from readers for challenging music to populate [a new chart for challenging music] are welcome. My own suggestion is Tide , a double CD of music by James Weeks. Cageian connections abound on this new release: the performing ensemble Apartment House, which was founded by cellist and inter-disciplinary artist Anton Lukoszevieze, takes its name from Cage’s composition Apartment House 1776 , composer James Weeks featured here previously directing vocal ensemble Exaudi’s performance of John Cage’s Song Books at Aldeburgh, and the work uses the curved cello bow that Cage specified for his 1991 compositions ONE8 and 108 . Tide is three solo pieces, for cello with the curved Bach bow that sounds all four strings simultaneously, for clarinet with electronic sound delay creating a canon effect, and for oboe d’amore. The three pieces can be played separately or as a trio, and the Metier double CD offers both versions. When performed together, as they are on disc one, Cageian controlled chance comes into play, with the points of entry being left to the chance decision of the musicians, but with the shape of the three discrete musical strands controlled by the score.
Leading pioneer in brain plasticity research Michael Merzenich explains that “When culture drives changes in the ways that we engage our brains, it creates different brains”. If I was controller of BBC Radio 3 – one can but dream – I would order the thirty-one minute composite version of James Weeks’ Tide to be played in its entirety on the station’s Breakfast programme every day for a week as an antidote to the neurofissilty inducing dumb-downedness that currently prevails there.