We expect music to play with both our minds and our bodies. We anticipate what’s coming next and then are surprised or gratified.
With his “Sonatas and Interludes” for prepared piano, written after being introduced to the music and philosophy of India, John Cage, however, stripped away all this stuff. He intended it to be meditative in nature, a bridge between East and West, and its 20 short movements exist in the moment and set up no expectations whatsoever. It’s an hour of directionless music that hovers overhead, lingers from time to time, embraces occasional tensionless silences and rarely reminds you of anything. It’s also absorbingly lovely when played with the commitment and delicacy that pianist Eliza Garth devoted to her performance Thursday at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Center.