John Cage - The Number Pieces 1

John Cage


mode 44


Mode Records - A Record Label Devoted to New Music The Number Pieces 1

1. FOUR3 (1991) 30:36

for Merce Cunningham's dance Beach Birds

Ami Flammer, violin & rainsticks
Martine Joste, piano & rainsticks
Dominique Alchourroun, piano & rainsticks
Jean Michaut, rainsticks

2. ONE5 (1990) 19:31

Martine Joste, piano

3. TWO6 (1992) 19:47

Ami Flammer, violin
Martine Joste, piano

Written for Martine Joste & Ami Flammer

First Recordings

All of John Cage's compositions from his last five years were given titles made-up of numbers with superscripts. The numbers denoted the number of performers, the superscripts indicated the chronological order of the work in compositions sharing the same title. So, Four3 recorded here would be the third piece that Cage composed for four players.

The works recorded here all share a mysterious, meditative and tranquil quality which gives them a sense of having one foot on the earth and another foot in the next world to come.

Two6 was written for the musicians who recorded it here, Martine Joste and Ami Flammer. They premiered it in the presence of the composer at the International Music Weeks in Orléans, France in April 1992.

Four3 was written as the music for Merce Cunningham's Dance Beach Birds. Based on Satie's Vexations, its unique sound world consists of two pianos, one in the hall and one outside, and a violin playing held tones. All four musicians add to this exotic soundscape by playing rainsticks.

One5 for solo piano alternates between overlapping, evanescent sonorities and silence.

All works receive their first recordings from these superb musicians, recorded for Mode at Radio France.


"Mode Records' ongoing John Cage Edition goes from strength to strength. His music confronts one's prejudices about what classical music (or music in general) is or isn't, and it does so with sounds of unexpected beauty that one starts to listen to everything--not just Cage's music--with new ears. The Number Pieces are prime Cage, and these performances by Radio France display the greatest concentration and commitment...qualities that they request of the listener as well."
---H&B Recordings Direct

"So why should anyone spend time listening to these discs? Because to do so may lead to a profound experience."
---Art Lange, Fanfare

"Four3 is music of remarkable power and...charm. I find it remarkable that this half-hour-long piece co-opts one's attention with the sparest, least intrusive means. All in all, a remarkable display."
---Mike Silverton, Fanfare

"...the piece for 12 rainsticks, violin, and 2 pianos (Four3) is meditative and calming, and could find friends among new age fans."
---JJ, New Age Voice

"Performance 6; Sound 7. The great difficulty of this piece (One5) is to make incredibly long sounds last, and Martine Joste uses a thousand tricks to reach this goal--and she succeeds."
---Anne-Sophie Calvet, Répertoire(France)

"In Four3, dedicated to his friend, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, Cage wonderfully creates a space of sound with scarce means: a few harmonics on the violin, scattered notes at the piano that set the piece in time, and sand streaming in rain sticks. The music, in its Satie-like simplicity, is realized by faithful performers. Martine Joste gives an impressive version of the aleatoric One5."
---Franck Mallet, Le Monde de la Musique (France)

Related Resources:

John Cage on Mode:
John Cage Profile/Discography

Also by Martine Joste on Mode:
Alain Bancquart: Le Livre du Labyrinthe (mode 120/121, 2-CDs)
John Cage: The Piano Works 6 (mode 147)

Merce Cunningham

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