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Feldman: 'Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello' (Morton Feldman, Vol. 5) / Aleck Karis, piano; Curtis Macomber, violin; Danielle Farina, viola; Christopher Finckel, cello

Album Summary

>Feldman, Morton : Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Feldman's haunting last work, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello displays the qualities of the "late style": complete mastery, utter assurance, and a kind of luminous melancholy. Like Palais de Mari, written a year earlier, it unfolds at a leisurely pace, with similar uses of repetition and recurrence, gentle rocking figures, and a somewhat restricted range. The measured unfolding of the material, without emphasis on dramatic contrast or large fluctuations in the rate of change, enables the listener to focus on the work's many subtle and beguiling details.

American Record Guide, September/October 2015
His final composition, reminds me of the incredible beauty of the music and also of its unassuming metrical complexity (what sounds like rubato actually turns out to be very carefully notated, unusual rhythms). The harmonies mostly involve a number of extremely compact intervals that become more spacious here and there; Karis, in particular, colors these harmonies exquisitely, rendering each one more lovely and sonorous than the last. The sound is exquisite. A must-have.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Conrad Prebys Hall in the Conrad Prebys Music Center, U (12/13/2013).


A demanding (but rewarding) listening experience
Late in his career Morton Feldman became fascinated with the extremes of duration. This 1987 work, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello comes from that period and clocks in at 75;13. It's not his longest work, the 6-hour 2nd String Quartet holds that honor. But its length does make some demands -- and has some effect -- on the listener (at least this one).

The work is in a single movement, and Bridge presents it on disc with a single track. So the only way to really listen to the work is start at the beginning, and follow through to the end -- just the way Feldman intended.

The work has a rather thin texture. Each instrument has a few notes they play, sometimes in conjunction with one or two others. These note clusters come and go in waves that aren't precisely timed, but have an inherent rhythm to them, like very slow breathing.

The music forced me to listen to it on Feldman's terms -- not mine. There are no easily discernible motives, no recognizable sections or forms. The music simply... is. And once I became comfortable with that concept, I felt I could appreciate it. Like a mobile faintly stirred by a gentle breeze, the music seemed to slowly circle around itself, creating new patterns as different note clusters aligned. Ever changing, yet ever the same.

This music is very slow and very soft -- two of the most demanding aspects of performance. To maintain the focus and control this work requires for over an hour is an amazing feat -- and one that these soloists accomplish. I did have one quibble with the recording -- it seemed a little soft around the edges. But perhaps that was deliberate. The softness of the instrumental sound is in keeping with the ambiguity of the music.

An excellent addition to Bridge Record's survey of Morton Feldman's music.
Submitted on 05/14/15 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Feldman, Morton : Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
  • Performers: Danielle Farina (Viola); Christopher Finckel (Cello); Aleck Karis (Piano); Curtis Macomber (Violin)
  • Running Time: 75 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1987