John Cage


mode 104

Cage Edition 24–A Cage Of Saxophones 1


mode 104  John CAGE, Vol. 24: “A Cage of Saxophones I”. Ryoanji for 4 saxophones & percussion; Five for two saxophones, two bowed pianos & accordion; Four5 for 4 saxophones; Five4 for saxophone quartet; Hymnkus for 2 saxophones, 2 pianos, accordion & 2 percussions – Ulrich Krieger, saxophones; with other saxophonists plus Mario Bertoncini, piano; others.

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Cage Edition 24–A Cage Of Saxophones 1

Ulrich Krieger – saxophones, concept & direction

Five  (1988)
   version for 2 saxophones, accordion & 2 pianos  (5:07)

Ryoanji  (1984)
   for saxophone, 3 prerecorded saxophones & percussion  (21:26)

Four5  (1991)
   for saxophone quartet  (12:02)

Five4  (1991)
   for 2 saxophones & 3 percussions  (5:01)

Hymnkus  (1986)
   for 2 saxophones, accordion, 2 pianos & 2 percussions  (30:04)

Ulrich Krieger – sopranino sax , soprano sax , alto sax
Tobias Rüger – tenor sax
Reimar Volker – alto sax, baritone sax
Kathrin Wagner – alto sax, tenor sax
Mario Bertoncini – piano
Reinhold Friedl – piano
Gerhard Scherer – accordion
Friedemann Werzlau – percussion
Raymond Kaczynski – percussion
Andreas Peters – percussion

The Complete John Cage Edition, Volume 24

Between 1983 and 1991 John cage wrote three pieces specifically for saxophones, Four5, Five4 and Hymnkus, which are combined here for the first time on CD. In addition, Cage authorized Ulrich Krieger’s arrangement for saxophone of Ryoanji. Krieger also made a saxophone arrangement of Five, one of the few compositions from this period performable on any instruments.

This unique disc concentrates on Cage’s late works for saxophone. A CAGE OF SAXOPHONES VOL.2 (mode 160), features a combination of Cage works containing saxophone from various periods. Krieger is joined here by a top group of German new music performers, including noted pianist Mario Bertoncini.

Acclaimed German saxophonist Ulrich Krieger studied classical / contemporary saxophone, composition, and electronic music at the Hochschule der Künste (Berlin) and the Manhattan School of Music (New York). Since 1990 he works freelance as interpreter, improviser, composer, and rock musician. He worked with leading artists such as LaMonte Young, Phill Niblock, David First, Lee Ranaldo, Elliott Sharp, Mario Bertoncini, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Merzbow, and many others. He has made numerous concerts, radio and television broadcasts as performer, soloist, with his own ensembles, various chamber music groups and orchestras (including the Ensemble Modern and the Berlin Philharmonic) in Europe, USA, Canada, Asia and Australia.


Ulrich KRIEGER plays JOHN CAGE – A Cage of saxophones Vol.1
Mode 104

Those who are used to listening to Phill Niblock will instantly recognize the name of saxophone great Ulrich Krieger, who besides Phill has played with – and for – the cream of the avantgarde scene everywhere. Here, the German reedist undertakes the not easy task of playing John Cage’s music: a difficulty arising from the very same freedom that Cage’s “chances” yield to everyone involved in its interpretation. In fact, a set of instructions can be musically dangerous if not properly used – how long we’ll still have to tolerate lots of artistic trash while defining “freedom” or “new art” is anyone’s guess. But, as I knew before listening, Ulrich is a master of the understatement and his exceptional balance guarantees a splendid work.  “Five” is made of almost static tones, reminiscing of the best historical  minimalism; “Ryoanji” has the same taste and the beautifully scarce movement of Japanese theatre music; the final “Hymnkus” mixes sax, piano, accordion and percussion for one of the best Cage pieces I heard in a long time. Uli Krieger’s colours are absolutely flawless, his use of technique never overwhelming but always in line with the necessary attention to every detail. This is a superb recording!
— Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, December 2002

John Cage: A Cage of Saxophones Vol. 1
Ulrich Krieger
Mode 104

Ulrich Krieger’s album…shows Cage less concerned with communicative expression. As Krieger writes in his sleevenote, “Instead, freed of this burden, (the music) can address the listener solely and directly through the sound.” But what a sound! Saxophones, bowed pianos and accordion create celestial clusters of static notes, a minimal mystery world in which the casual ear might think electronics were at work. These are beautifully refined performances of late Cage pieces involving saxophones: Five, Four5, Five4 and Hymnkus; plus a sax arrangement of the Zen garden piece Ryoanji, originally featuring a flute solo. A total of ten German musicians are involved, and the ensemble playing is remarkable, even telepathic. The luminous qualities of Five and Four5 in particular will be a delight to fans of static Ambient work such as Paul Schütze’s recent albums.
—Clive Bell, The Wire, May 2002


John Cage on Mode:
John Cage Profile/Discography

Ulrich Krieger on Mode:
Luciano Berio: The Complete Sequenzas and Works for Solo Instruments (mode 161-163)
Gavin Bryars: The Marvellous Aphorisms of Gavin Bryars: The Early Years (mode 177)
John Cage: A Cage of Saxophones, Volume 1 (mode 104)
John Cage: A Cage of Saxophones, Volume 2 (mode 160)
John Cage: A Cage of Saxophones, Volumes 3 & 4 (mode 222/223)
Ulrich Krieger: [urban dreamings] (mode 280)

Ulrich Krieger Profile