Quartetski / John Cage

The performers’ sounds, timbres, and colours are well-chosen and make a beautiful spectrum. Vital, Netherlands

… the quartet displays a spirit of sonic discovery that’s aurally refreshing while respecting the composer’s musical aesthetics. The WholeNote, Canada

Cage, the group’s fourth release on Ambiances Magnétiques, is at once entirely consistent with the group’s ethos and a radical departure. Those familiar with Pierre-Yves Martel’s broader body of work –– with or without Quartetski stalwarts Philippe Lauzier, Bernard Falaise, and Isaiah Ceccarelli –– will recognise qualities in these pieces, Four6 and One7, that characterise his own music more directly than the group’s previous, excellent releases: Thoroughly deliberate sound-making, attention to timbres in their manifold richnesses, space, and a calm spirit of discovery. And yet, like all Quartetski projects, Cage declares its fidelity to the radical vision of its composer-namesake. In this way, by underscoring the affinities shared by both interpreters and composer, this may be the most ‘personal’ Quartetski record, but achieves this condition, paradoxically, by purging the personal, ridding this music’s execution of the ego in such a satisfying, consummately Cagean way. — Scott Thomson


CD (AM 264)

  • Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
  • AM 264
  • 2021
  • UCC 771028126422
  • Total duration: 60:07
  • Sympathique case
  • 126 mm × 126 mm × 5 mm
  • 35 g

On the web

Download (AM 264_NUM)



For any way of producing sounds (vocalization, singing, playing of an instrument or instruments, electronics, etc.)

Choose twelve different sounds with fixed characteristics (amplitude, overtone structure, etc.) Play within the time brackets given. When the time brackets are connected by a diagonal line, they are relatively close together. When performed as a solo, the first player’s part is used and the piece is called One7.

For Pauline Oliveros to celebrate her sixtieth birthday and for Joan La Barbara, William Winant, and Leonard Stein.

One7 (for four players)

For any pitched instrument able to play sustained notes.

Each player derives a chromatic tone row obtained using chance operations. All four players use part 1 and play within the time brackets given. Registers are not fixed. The musicians think and act as one individual, playing together as much as possible, or not.

For Joane Hétu and Danielle Palardy Roger.

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In the press


Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 1338, May 31, 2022

Quartetski was formed in 2007 by Pierre-Yves Martel “as a vehicle to rethink and reinterpret the works of great composers through the lens of creative improvised music”. So far, Martel and his companions realized projects focused on the works by Prokofiev (2007), Stravinsky (2013) and Bartók (2016). Choosing Cage for their new project, the decision for a very different kind of a composer compared to the three predecessors. They chose two compositions belonging to a body of about forty works called Number Pieces composed by Cage in his last years. Each work is titled after the number of performers that are involved. One7 is the seventh work for one performer, Four6 is the sixth work for four performers, etc. Both are not written for specific instrumentation and are dedicated to composer and accordionist Pauline Oliveros, a.o. I don’t know any other recordings of these works and can’t make any comparison. But the fact that they perform One7 as a quartet may be one of more decisions that make their approach different from others. Anyway, we have Isaiah Ceccarelli (percussion, synthesizer), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, synthesizer); Pierre-Yves Martel (electric bass, sine waves) and Bernard Falaise (electric guitar) at work here in an intriguing rendition of both pieces. They play a limited set of patterns interspersed with pauses of different lengths, which evokes the impression of a random-like sequence. Pointillistic, non-intentional dots of sound pass by, but it is evident that something is at work in these works that gives them a fascinating (dis)continuity. The movements are fragile and delicate, always very modest. The performers’ sounds, timbres, and colours are well-chosen and make a beautiful spectrum.

The performers’ sounds, timbres, and colours are well-chosen and make a beautiful spectrum.


Andrew Timar, The WholeNote, no. 27:6, April 21, 2022

In the last years of his prolific creative life, iconic experimental composer John Cage (1912-1992) composed some 40 number pieces. For titles, he coined a unique system in which numbers indicate the number of performers or the number of instrumental parts in each work. Superscripts were added when compositions shared the same number of performers.

Cage’s notation of these pieces features two time-based categories: fixed and flexible “time brackets.” Fixed-time brackets indicate when the musician/s should precisely begin and end a tonal event. Flexible-time brackets however, allow musicians choice in the matter, admitting into the performance, a) chance and b) the anarchic harmony of sounds and silences simply co-existing, two key Cagean notions.

Both works on this album belong to that corpus. One7, “For any pitched instrument able to play sustained notes,” is the seventh piece in a series of compositions for one musician. Except, in this performance the polished Montréal group Quartetski have decided to interpret the open score with all four member musicians: Isaiah Ceccarelli (percussion, synthesizer), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, synthesizer) and Pierre-Yves Martel (electric bass, sine waves).

Four6, also for unspecified forces, also lasts a leisurely half hour. The four musicians are asked to “Choose 12 different sounds with fixed characteristics (amplitude, overtone structure, etc.) ” producing a mellower soundscape than the dramatic musical moments generated in One7.

Quartetski’s nuanced realization of these two autumnal Cage works admirably animates the scores, imbuing individual character which belies their apparent abstract appearance. Marked by attention to timbral richness well-represented by this refined recording, the quartet displays a spirit of sonic discovery that’s aurally refreshing while respecting the composer’s musical aesthetics.

… the quartet displays a spirit of sonic discovery that’s aurally refreshing while respecting the composer’s musical aesthetics.


Ben Taffijn, Nieuwe Noten, April 2, 2022

De invloed van John Cage op de hedendaags gecomponeerde muziek kan moeilijk worden overschat en in tegenstelling tot veel andere grote namen uit de vorige eeuw wordt zijn muziek nog opvallend vaak uitgevoerd, met als hoogtepunt de vorig jaar verschenen box van Apartment House met daarop alle zogenaamde ‘Number Pieces’, uitgebracht door Another Timbre. Maar er is meer. Ook Quartetski bracht onlangs twee ‘Number Pieces’ uit, bij Ambiances Magnétiques, te weten Four6 en One7 en bij Naxos verscheen vorig jaar de Cd American Percussion Works waarop Percurama onder andere ‘First Construction (in Metal) ’ uitvoert.

Apartement House nam dertien stukken op, ze komen hier morgen aan bod, in een bezetting tussen vijf en dertien leden (het eerste getal van de ‘Number Pieces’ duidt op het aantal uitvoerenden, het tweede op de volgorde binnen de stukken voor die bezetting. ‘Four6’ is dus het zesde stuk in een bezetting voor vier musici), Four6 en One7 vallen daarbuiten. Soms schreef Cage een stuk specifiek voor een instrument, meestal liet hij het echter open, iets dat ook geldt voor de twee stukken die Quartetski hier uitvoert. Four6 dat hij schreef in 1992, het laatste jaar van zijn leven heeft als aanduiding ‘four performers’. Het geeft dit bijzondere kwartet, bestaande uit percussionist Isaiah Ceccarelli, rietblazer Philippe Lauzier, Pierre-Yves Martel actief in de weer met de viola da gamba en diverse objecten en gitarist Bernard Falaise, de mogelijkheid Cage’ materiaal maximaal naar hun hand te zetten. De combinatie van percussie, objecten en rietblazers, viola da gamba werkt perfect, evenals die van akoestische en elektronisch, de elektrische gitaar van Falaise. One7, uit 1990, was dus bedoeld voor één instrument, keuze vrij. Dit kwartet houdt zich er niet aan, al klinkt het hier wel als een onlosmakelijke eenheid, waarbij met name die prachtige wolken van klank opvallen. Niet helemaal conform Cage’ wil, maar wel heel mooi gedaan.

This quartet […] sounds here like an inseparable unit, the beautiful clouds of sound being particularly striking.