The Complete John Cage Edition, Volume 38
The Number Pieces 4
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.