- Audio CD (May 1 1997)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Classical, Import, CD
- Label: Nonesuch
- ASIN: B000005J27
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
|1. Piano And String Quartet: Deep Dance - Various Artists|
The first time through I found myself gritting my teeth wanting more to happen. And it never did. And I was impatient and frustrated. The second time through I simply let it play in the background as I did something else. The third time through, having determined that it was not 'awful' and probably really quite good if I'd let it be, I decided to really listen through its entire length and see what I could hear. That's when I came to understand that Feldman's music repays close listening. There are very subtle happenings--phase changes, harmonic changes, minuscule 'events,'--and I came to really admire the concentration of the musicians involved--in this recording pianist Aki Takahashi and the Kronos Quartet. And then I recalled reading somewhere that the Kronos Quartet has given up playing the Second Quartet--that five hour span--because, as I remember it, they said they'd gotten 'too old.' I can understand that. This is, for all its minimal dynamics and slow tempo, enormously difficult music to play because of the intense concentration involved.Read more ›
Feldman is a minimalist in the most natural sense...like Mondrian or Rothko in painting, or Robert Creely in poetry, or Becket in Theater. Feldman's minimalism is based on limiting the means of composition and leaving space on his sonic canvas. (as opposed to Reich, Riley and Glass who limit musical means but then cover the page with their patterns. It's what a friend of mine calls energy minimalism.) In the case of Piano and String Quartet, the basic musical means are easily described. The quartet play delicately balanced chords, while the piano plays ethereal fillagrees...arpeggios and crystalline chords, all at very low volume levels (the piece never gets louder than piano). Each iteration of this material arises from silence and recedes back into the silence. It sounds profoundly natural, like waves of sound. The musical language is lush and haunting...neither tonal or atonal, but something that floats in between. (Another big difference between Feldman and the minimalist school is that Feldman's harmonic sense is more complex...and may have actually had some influence on later developments in minimalism, particularly on Reich's more chromatic music of the 80's onwards.)
The real art of this piece is in the details. Though the basic compositional form stays rather static throughout the piece, there is never a literal repeat. Each new statement of the material changes in small but, in the context, monumental ways.Read more ›
As far as the composition, I personally found this to be as strong a work as he wrote in his later years. And as for the performance: Kronos has never sounded better. This work requires stamina, focus, and coloration as opposed to dexterous virtuosity (of which they were certainly capable); Kronos does the job magnificently. Kudos to the recording engineers as well, who manage to emphasize the "sound." Aki Takahashi was one of three pianists of choice for Feldman during his lifetime, and I can hear why.
The performance is maximum length for one CD (79 & 1/2 minutes) so I suspect all parties involved wanted to see that the work was SLOW enough, but fit the format's constraints.
If I was to recommend an introductory recording to Feldman's music, I'd probably choose "Rothko Chapel" first. But if you really want to dive in...try this one.