Despite the plural of the title, this disc contains only one work, Five3, for trombone and string quartet, performed with customary rigor by Monique Buzzarté and the Arditti Quartet. Dating from the last years of the composer's life, Five3 belongs to a series of works often referred to as "the number pieces" or "the time-bracket pieces," a reference to the system of notation used by Cage throughout (the superscript "3" indicates this is the third piece written for five performers). Individual notes and phrases are flanked in the score by pairs of timings, one indicating a range of time during which to start playing, the other a range during which the playing must be completed. Dynamics are generally low throughout. This is music of considerable sparseness, even austerity, but nonetheless great beauty; on this album it has been beautifully recorded and produced, and is accompanied by eloquent and poetic liner notes by James Pritchett.
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