|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 is in preparation, which will feature 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.
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