John Cage


mode 75

Cage Edition 19-The Number Pieces 2



mode 75 John CAGE: Vol.19: The Number Pieces 2 – Five3 – Monique Buzzarté, (trombone), The Arditti String Quartet.

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Cage Edition 19-The Number Pieces 2

Five3(1991)   (40:01)
for trombone & string quartet

Monique Buzzarté, trombone
The Arditti String Quartet
Irvine Arditti, violin
David Alberman, violin
Garth Knox, viola
Rohan de Saram, cello

During the last few years of his life, John Cage wrote many pieces in the same general vein as Five3. They are often referred to as “the number pieces.” This references the titles of the pieces, which are all simply the number of the performers. Superscripts are added as necessary to distinguish the individual pieces (this is the third quintet, for example).

These works are also called “the time-bracket pieces,” a reference to the notation of the pieces. Each event in the piece consists of three components: a short bit of music (usually a single note, but sometimes a phrase of a few tones or a series of chords) flanked on either side by pairs of timings. The timings on the right side indicate the range of time during which to start playing. The little bit of music indicates what to play. The timings on the left side indicate the range of time during which the playing must be completed. The piece appears before our ears, like magic, with the feeling that it could go on and on, replicating itself, assembling its future forever.

The superb Arditti Quartet, along with first violinist Irvine Arditti, continue their traversal of the complete works of Cage for string quartet and violin.

An original etching by John Cage, 9 Stones, graces the cover. Liner notes are by noted Cage scholar James Pritchett.


John Cage
The Number Pieces 2; Five3

Monique Buzzarté (trombone)
Arditti Quartet
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 9
Mode 75

Many observers have suggested that in John Cage’s late “number pieces” it’s the players, rather than the music itself, that carry the performance. The score for Five3, after all, simply consists of bits of music– single notes or short phrases– bracketed by a starting time on one side and the range of time for completing the bit of music on the other. This piece, then, is a 40-minute stretch of quiet held tones punctuated by silences, and the performance is phenomenal. Trombonist Monique Buzzarté and the Arditti members often play microtones apart, with impossible intensity. The Arditti has recorded lots of Cage, and it shows: their bowstrokes are as clear and unwavering as Cage’s line drawings. With so much pianissimo playing, you hear the light friction of bow against string, and bow changes are absolutely seamless. This is a stunning addition to Mode’s ongoing Complete John Cage Edition, for which this is the 19th disc.
— Sarah Cahill,


John Cage on Mode:
John Cage Profile/Discography

Also by these artists on Mode records:
The Arditti Quartet:
John Cage: The Complete String Quartets, Vol.1 (mode 17)
and Vol. 2 (mode 27)
The Works for Violin 6, The String Quartets 4
(mode 144/145)
Chaya Czernowin: String Quartet (mode 77)
Peter Maxwell Davies: String Quartet 1952 (mode 59)
Gerard Pape: Vortex (mode 26); String Quartet #2 (mode 67)
Hilda Paredes: The Seventh Seed (mode 60)

Irvine Arditti:
John Cage: Freeman Etudes, Vol. 1 (mode 32) and Vol. 2 (mode 37)
Hilda Paredes: Permutaciones for solo violin (mode 60)

The Arditti Quartet Profile
Arditti Quartet Web Site

Monique Buzzarté Profile