John Cage


mode 186

John Cage Edition 38: The Number Pieces 4


mode 186 John Cage: Volume 38: The Number Pieces 4Solo with Obbligato Accompaniment of Two Voices in Canon, and Six Short Inventions on the Subjects of the Solo; Three.  Written for and performed by Trio Dolce, recorders. First Recordings.

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John Cage Edition 38: The Number Pieces 4
(viewed Feb. 7, 2013). Trio Dolce (Christine Brelowski, Geesche Geddert, Dorothea Winter, recorders). Recorded in 1998. Previously released as a compact disc.

Solo with Obbligato Accompaniment of Two Voices in Canon, and Six Short Inventions on the Subjects of the Solo (1933-34)
for any three or more instruments encompassing the range: g below middle c to g one and one half octaves above middle c
  Grave adagio   (9:07)
  Invention No. 1   (0:53)
  Invention No. 2   (0:24)
  Invention No. 3   (1:33)
  Invention No. 4   (0:37)
  Invention No. 5   (1:28)
  Invention No. 6   (1:46)

Three (1989)
for three players having a variety of recorders
  1   (2:40)
  A   (3:00)
  B   (3:00)
  C   (3:00)
  D   (3:00)
  E   (3:00)
  F   (3:00)
  G   (3:00)
  H   (3:00)
  I   (3:00)
  2   (2:10)

Trio Dolce, recorders

first recording
Written for Trio Dolce

The first recording of Cage’s large scale composition for 3 recorder players.

The Trio Dolce wrote Cage for permission to perform Solo with Obbligato Accompaniment on three alto recorders, one octave higher than the prescribed range. In a letter from March 1987 Cage replied: “Of course you may use the 3 alto recorders. I am glad that you are playing that piece.” They performed it on July 1988 with Cage in attendance.

Cage’s enthusiastic reaction to this performance encouraged Trio Dolce to ask Cage if he would consider writing a work for them which “could take into account the ranges of the recorders” the Trio then owned. Upon meeting the members of the Trio during his residency at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in November 1988, Cage agreed to write a work for the Trio.

Three was completed in July 1989 and dedicated to Trio Dolce, who premiered it in July 1990 in the presence of the composer during a concert at the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music.

The performance instructions state that the indication “as legato as possible”. It requires great virtuosity and breath control, while at the same time changing recorders and maintaining a continuous legato, resulting in a sometimes fragile balance between the durations and dynamics.

Both outer movements of Three are interpolated by nine movements lettered A through I, one or any number of which may be played. The listener may choose which of the middle movements to listen to by programming the CD player.


John Cage Profile
Trio Dolce Profile
Christine Brelowski Profile
Geesche Geddert Profile
Dorothea Winter Profile