by Angela Sutton
With an extended battery of toys, Third Coast demonstrated both Cage's own broad palette of sound and the room he left for others' invention. For example, in Credo in Us, Cage called for piano, traditional Western and Eastern percussion, and radios tuned to various stations. On the other hand, in Quartet, his first work for percussion, he left instrumentation decisions to the performers. In the third movement of Quartet, Third Coast plucked, striked, and scraped the strings of an unlucky upright piano, which they had stripped down to its harp and laid on its side.
Though loose in some respects, Cage's music does have precise dimensions. The launching of various events must be timed correctly to maintain the driving rhythms and highlight unconventional moments. The members of Third Coast (David Skidmore, Peter Martin, Robert Dillon, and Owen Clayton Condon) showed a high degree of coordination and inventiveness in realizing Cage's compositions.
Cage's Third Construction wrapped up the evening, beginning modestly and ramping up to a vigorous finale that had the performers in a true sweat. It was a fitting conclusion for a program highlighting Cage's strange blend of earnestness and humor.