John Cage


mode 193

Cage Edition Volume 38-The Number Pieces 5


mode 193 John Cage: Volume 39: The Number Pieces 5Two2: Rob Haskins, piano I and Laurel Karlik Sheehan, piano II.  

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Cage Edition Volume 38-The Number Pieces 5
(viewed Feb. 7, 2013). Rob Haskins, Laurel Karlik Sheehan, pianos. Recorded in 2001. Previously released as a compact disc.

The Number Pieces 5

Two2 (1989)   (74:22)
Rob Haskins, piano I
Laurel Karlik Sheehan, piano II

Laurel Karlik Sheehan gave the Canadian premiere of Two2 with Jack Behrens in 1990. Rob Haskins is a respected Cage expert and scholar. Together they bring an authority and expertise to this performance of Two2.

In most of the Number Pieces, all the performers have some freedom through Cage’s use of time brackets, flexible measures that show a range of possible starting and ending times. The time bracket system of notation used in these works allows a certain amount of flexibility in the performance: individual notes or chords may always occur in the same general time frame, but their specific order and duration varies slightly and unpredictably from performance to performance. In this way Cage could create a new kind of harmony of “…several sounds…being noticed at the same time.”

Cage based Two2 on renga, a Japanese poetic design of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables expressed at least thirty-six times. Each line of music is divided into five measures, just like the five lines of the poetry. The first measure contains five separate musical events – chords or single tones, usually shared between the two pianists – which correspond to the five syllables of the first line; the second measure has seven events, and so on. There are a total of thirty-six such five-measure sections in the piece. While the pianists can take any amount of time to perform each measure, each pianist must wait until both have finished the same measure before proceeding to the next.

Given this flexibility, Haskins and Karlik Sheehan’s performance is the longest of the recordings to date – emphasizing the sense of spaciousness and interest in harmony that marks many of Cage’s late pieces.

Liner notes by Rob Haskins.

96khz, 24-bit high definition recording.


John Cage
The Number Pieces 5

Mode 193

The latest offering in MODEs expansive The Complete John Cage Edition, this one being volume 39. Two2 (1989) for two pianos – yet another of Cage’s number pieces, a rock garden of space and sound. In typical Cage fashion, there’s little melody here, but there is harmony…chords appear and disappear only to be replaced by silence. The piece is a peaceful quiet affair, performed by Rob Haskins and Laurel Karlik Sheehan. The form of Two2 is based on renga, a Japanese poetic design of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables expressed at least thirty-six times.
— David Beardsley, guest reviewer,


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