Tom Johnson – Orgelpark For Chart: For Four Organs

Tom Johnson

CD – Mazagran
This is a composition for four organs by Tom Johnson that modulates for 50 minutes on a single note – the tonal key “C” – played in various octaves. The effect is definitely hypnotic, crystalline and absorbing; in the extreme minimalism the proposal is played through thin but insinuating iterations, characterized by a poetic cacophony that reminds us of the pioneers of the great American tradition of repetitive tonal music. Cacophony for Stravinsky meant “ugly sound, illegal commodity, not ordered music”, that finally – in his opinion – could not resist serious criticism. The Russian maestro – due to the strength of his authority – was able to complain about “the snobs who boast of being familiar with the world of the incomprehensibility… who search for the surprising effect rather than searching for the music, the sensation that overbears the comprehension”. Tom Johnson probably wouldn’t agree and with him the host of modern musicians accustomed to using mathematical and logical processes in the elaboration of a work. The author – who is stylistically born out of the Morton Feldman school – knows well the power of indefiniteness in music. “I have two good minimalist composer friends who have been writing drone music for many years: Phill Niblock and Eliane Radigue. When I told them I had finally left my metric melodies and harmonies and I was writing a one-note piece, they were quite surprised and pleased. So am I.” So Johnson himself stated – and we are sure that his self-satisfaction is genuine, having given life to a solid block of sound, vibrant and magnificent.