Transcending the merely ugly, this work is difficult listening. First, it's for solo violin, which in Cage's case tends toward the grating and monotonous. Second, it's one of those "stunt" pieces; here's the description from john-cage.info:
With the melting of the ice the pebbles fall, strike wires, which sing, and fall into the pool of water.
Third, this is a download from emusic, which means I have no liner notes. While listening, I kept pondering how that sometimes harsh violin tone was generated. And if this performance incorporated melting ice, I had visions of someone in the studio being electrocuted around recording equipment. Fourth, the work is long, maybe three quarters of an hour, give or take. I'm all in favor of experimental music but enough was enough. Finally, and most importantly, there are long gaps of silence, sometimes a minute or more, interspersed throughout the piece. While for example, Tom Johnson has used empty space to good effect and while I can acknowledge silence can raise awareness of ambient sounds or even trigger contemplation, in this case, it caused me to be concerned during every silent segment that the music might already be over and I was in fact listening to nothing. So, instead of focusing on the artistic experience during these breaks, I felt I had to check the iPod (and one time, found the headphone cord slipped out). Egad. So, I have to conclude this piece is only recommended for those on a high plane of spiritual mindfulness.
The normal reaction to music we do not understand is moral outrage, and I was quite ready to have music that I did not yet understand proscribed and banned.
Will I eventually understand and get used to this work of Cage? (And no, I don't believe this experience applies to all his music; I can't get enough of, say, Dream or Souvenir).