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Pestova and Meyer conclude their enterprising Cage trilogy with a disc dominated by Two 2 (1989), one of the ‘number’ pieces that preoccupied Cage in his last years and his final work for piano duo. Two 2 shows him continuing to experiment with different ways of using time in his compositions. Most of the ‘number’ pieces employ his ‘time brackets’ technique, which allows the performers a degree of latitude in choosing when to play certain sounds, albeit within strict limits. In contrast, Two 2 tests Sofia Gubaidulina’s remark to Cage that musicians have ‘an inner clock’: he lets each pianist play each measure in their own time, stipulating only that both have to finish one measure before either can proceed to the next.

Two 2 ’s overall form is based on the numerical patterns of Japanese renga poetry. It comprises 36 ‘lines’ of music, each consisting of five bars, with the bars containing 5-7-5-7-7 ‘syllables’ or musical sounds respectively. There are pauses between lines and the damper pedals stay down throughout, so Two 2 , in Kyle Gann’s words, sounds ‘soft, sustained, quiescent’. The Pestova/Meyer version takes a diligent 43 minutes, but there are longer versions – a mesmeric performance by Rob Haskins and Laurel Karlik Sheehan on Mode extends to an hour and a quarter. Pestova and Meyer open their disc with Winter Music (1957), an early classic of indeterminacy, played here with bold, emphatic gestures, and close with Experiences No 1 (1945), a fleeting dance piece of Satie-like simplicity and charm.

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