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Morton Feldman

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quietly.

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Just finshed listening to the Louis Goldstein recording of "Triadic Memories." Wow. I've heard that the Marilyn Nonken recording is also excellent.

Goldstein's recording apparently can be obtained only through him now. Here's his email address:

http://www.wfu.edu/music/People/Faculty/fa...-goldstein.html

Here's a link to an excellent Feldman site:

http://www.cnvill.demon.co.uk/mfhome.htm

Under "texts" on this site I particularly recommend a look at No. 16 by Catherine Hirata. There's also a link on this site to a Feldman discussions list "Why Patterns."

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Happy birthday, Morty!

I'm a big fan of Feldman's piano music, and enthusiastically second the Goldstein rec. Purchased it from Forced Exposure some years ago. "Triadic Memories" is coupled with Cage's "1^5", and I generally like Cage's "number pieces" (while stopping short of recommending them for the "general public"...). [Disclaimer: I don't usually spring for multiple recordings of works.]

Also suggest "Palais de Mari" and "For Bunita Marcus" (I own the Hildegard Kleeb discs on Hat Art, and haven't found it necessary to look for alternatives).

Edited by T.D.

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Do any of you have the Flux Quartet Feldman? Flux has done Keith Jarrett's music for me, which I've had transcribed for string quartet, and hopefully there will be more soon....difficult with all the changes in the record biz...probably a string quartet version of Keith's Spheres.

The Flux's Scelsi at Miller Theater was rather crappy, sad to say. Only the Arditti can do that shit, although I think Dave Douglas or somebody is trying to do a "Jazz' version of Scelsi, which might work.

BTW In the last century I asked Dave to do one of Keith's compositions, trumpet and player piano...he didn't want to. Too bad, woulda, coulda been interesting.

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Do any of you have the Flux Quartet Feldman?

Don't have it (or the Ives Ensemble recording) myself, but here's John Story's review of it from the Feldman "Why Patterns" list that compares it to the Ives Ensemble recording:

FELDMAN String Quartet No. 2 . Flux Quartet . MODE 112 (5 CDs or 1 DVD

6:06:07)

This is one of the monuments of modern music, both in ambition and in sheer

length. Written for the Kronos Quartet in 1983, it stretches every possible

parameter of the string quartet. Both of Feldman's string quartets are

enormous. The first lasted a hundred minutes at the premiere (the recording

drops about thirty minutes off that, possibly simply by playing at Feldman's

stated tempo - I have never compared the score to the recording). Presumably

feeling he needed to top himself in what is the most exalted medium of

Western music, Feldman's second string quartet is his largest work. Taken at

the slower of the tempo range given in the score it runs just under five

hours. Taking it at the faster option reduces the overall playing time about

fifteen minutes. The most obvious difference in this, the work's second

recording, with the first by the Ives Ensemble on Hat(now)Art is that the

Flux Quartet take about an hour and ten minutes more over the music,

dropping the tempo down to about quarter note=50 from Feldman's specified

63-66. As it turns out this is perhaps the least significant aspect of the

performance, one that is quite different from that given by the Ives

Ensemble. As Christian Wolff points out in his notes to the present

recording, the perception of passing time is virtually identical between the

two. There is also not much of a price differential since the Ives set of

four CDs retails for the same forty dollars as the Flux Quartet's five (or

single DVD which allows the listener to hear the performance uninterrupted

as in a concert situation).

For those unfamiliar with Feldman's late style and his music for strings in

particular, the work is perhaps paradoxically derived from the concentrated

early music of Anton Webern. Modules are presented, varied, discarded to be

taken up again, perhaps an hour later, in a continuing mosaic of sound that

recalls the experience of examining Feldman's beloved oriental rugs at close

range. His ability to glue this together to make a genuinely continuous

whole is one of the many remarkable things about the late music and there is

no music I know of that explores more thoroughly the process of memory.

String Quartet No. 2 and the almost equally enormous For Philip Guston that

followed in 1984 form the climax of what might be called the late music with

the very late music effectively beginning with For Bunita Marcus in 1985.

With that work Feldman pared his materials down to the absolute minimum,

something that is presaged in the second string quartet's extended second

half which is almost entirely chordal, without dynamic changes beyond

occasional decrescendos.

For all that Feldman notated all his late works quite precisely, his spoken

and published statements offer obvious contradictions to the notation,

particularly in works such as the pieces for instruments that involve

potentially flexible tuning. To a pianist, G double flat is identical in

pitch to F natural. To a string player (or brass player or a singer) there

is a tradition of shading the note so that the two notes are slightly

different. James Fulkerson has gone into print a number of times with his

belief that in Feldman the two notes should be the same, if for no other

reason then that Feldman composed at the piano which of course does not

offer any tuning options whatsoever, but Feldman suggested otherwise in his

published writings. He also only used the elaborate system of double sharps

and flats in instruments that were capable of playing them, which suggests

he wanted them heard as well as seen. Similarly Aki Takahashi has commented

that Feldman's famously finicky rhythms were intended to indicate a kind of

continuous rubato, so that patterns were never repeated exactly, rather than

intended to be followed precisely, something she in fact does not do in her

own performances which are as exact as anyone's. Finally there is the

question of string vibrato. In his writings Feldman seemed to express a

preference for string playing without vibrato but in the performances he

himself conducted, most notably the gorgeous Viola in My Life I-III, Karen

Philips plays with the same vibrato that she would use in any other music.

So there you have it.

The Ives Ensemble plays consistently without vibrato and, if anything,

emphasizes the tiny gradations of tuning. The Flux Quartet offer a much more

conventional string quartet sound, including vibrato selectively applied

which makes the tiny shifts away from even tempered tuning much more

discrete. The result adds a degree of sensuous beauty to the music that is

deeply seductive. How they do in live performance is anyone's guess, but in

the relatively easier confines of the recording studio, the Flux Quartet

maintain their level of tone production and their rhythmic control

throughout which again goes a long way towards making their slower tempo not

seem slow. They are aided in this by the recorded sound which is more

distant than the Ives Ensemble receives from Hat(now)Art. Not only does this

increase the glamour, if you will, of the quartet's basic sound, it also

makes the dynamic changes, which range in the score from ppppp to ff, easier

to register in playback.

The flip side to this is that the Ives Ensemble makes the music sound

newer, stranger, much less connected to the long tradition of Western music

for string quartet. Feldman wrote about the quartet as dialectic between

opposites. This utterly gorgeous performance and recording sets up its own

dialectic with the Ives Ensemble's approach. In an ideal world one should

own both performances, the Ives Ensemble for their modernist fervor, the

Flux Quartet for making the link to the long tradition of Western music,

that Feldman so emphatically felt himself to be a part of, explicit.

Obviously the highest recommendation.

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Another "Why Patterns" list response to the two SQ II recordings, from Glenn Freeman:

I prefer the MODE version just a bit (they are both very good). For me

the MODE version sounds better over the longer period of time (better

"pacing", if that is the correct term). Also, the sound on the MODE DVD

is quite amazing (better than CDs) and no need to change 4 CDs.

The performances are not that much different, when viewed at the motive

(small) level (I did not listen with a score ... perhaps John Story will

do this). At the beginning of the work I found the Flux Quartet to be

more "Stravinskian" in rhythm, with a generic Dorothy Delay-type of

"Julliard" expressivo string sound ... which I do not like for Feldman!

But then, surprisingly, I preferred the Flux's sensitivity (and pacing)

over time as they delved further into the work.

If you prefer a more "mature/cool/objective" sound at the small level,

then the Ives Ensemble might be the better choice.

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Happy Happy Joy Joy Morty.

dB

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Morton Feldman (January 12, 1926 – September 3, 1987) was an American composer, born in New York City.

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Happy Birthday Morton Feldman. You made a difference.

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Bump.  I have been listening to lots for Morton Feldman on YouTube for the past few years.  The longer I listen to him, the more awestruck I am.  He seems to link together many of my musical interests but in a completely singular way. 

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7 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Bump.  I have been listening to lots for Morton Feldman on YouTube for the past few years.  The longer I listen to him, the more awestruck I am.  He seems to link together many of my musical interests but in a completely singular way. 

Try him on CD or even on DVD audio, you have to hear the transparency of HIFI...it's perfect for his music.

 

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