- Audio CD (May 1 1997)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Classical, Import, CD
- Label: Nonesuch
- ASIN: B000005J27
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
Play Feldman String Quartet Classical, Import, CD
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Written two years before his death in 1987, Morton Feldman's Piano and String Quartet is a shimmering, pristine musical event. Contrasting Aki Takahashi's widely-spaced piano arpeggios with Kronos Quartet's extended chords, Feldman allows lingering sounds from either the piano or the strings to haze over many of the piece's near-silences. Kronos plays their parts with tremulous fragility, often making pointedly clear the viola's musical valley between the leading violins and the trailing cello. By the time Feldman composed this piece, he was deeply committed to extended works--chamber pieces that could telescope motifs and worry their tonality so that it warbled between hauntingly atonal and familiarly tonal singing. This is a powerful, evening piece, one that can set an extravagantly crystalline musical mood. --Andrew Bartlett
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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.
What of the music itself? I felt my pulse and breathing slowing down, my tension easing away and yet an inability to pull myself away from concentrating on it. In some ways it must be like meditation, except I found my mind active, not lulled. It became a puzzle whose solution I needed to find, even as I felt calmed by it.
What I'm trying to say is that this is not like any music I've ever listened to before, and it took new 'ears' and 'mind' to take it in, but once I did I was repaid. The general layout is delicate arpeggios or single notes in the piano against slowing evolving mostly diatonic chords in the strings, never rising above a modest mezzo piano. Simple enough. But strangely evolving. And it goes by slowly enough that one has time to really think deeply about what is happening.
I think there are two valid ways to hear this music. One is to let it pass over you, or through you, without your giving it much attention. But the more rewarding way is to HEAR what is happening.
Thank you, weirdears and Edward Wright. And thank you, Aki Takahashi and Kronos.
Performance and recording quality: ideal.
what you want to do is play this cd and deprive all your other senses- turn off the lights, sit still, and listen. give an hour of your life over to completely immersing yourself in what I think has to be one the most beautiful compositions I have ever experienced.
from seemingly repetitive patterns emerge the slightest deviations and developements that seem absolutely earth-shattering in this stark relief. i compare listening to this to the zen art of demura painting, where the beauty of the simple circle is found in the character of every bristle of the brush that creates the little tangential slivers and brief empty spaces.
as they say, god is in the details. but they're not the details your gonna see if you don't let go and give yourself, and every bit of your consciousness, to this sublime capsule.
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