Carolin Widmann’s widely acclaimed ECM recordings have traversed a broad arc of music – from Schubert to Xenakis. Here she turns her attention to one of the pivotal compositions of Morton Feldman. Violin And Orchestra, composed in 1979, marked a new direction, with an almost painterly attention to detail in slowly unfolding music. It is not a concerto in the strict sense of the term, not soloist with orchestral support. The violinist must move inside the glowing colour-field of sound. In this landmark Feldman recording, Widmann does so with great delicacy and feeling, exploring the subtle orchestral texture, crafted together with conductor Emilio Pomarico and the players of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Carolin Widmann’s widely acclaimed ECM recordings have traversed a broad arc of music – from Schubert to Xenakis. Here she turns her attention to one of the pivotal compositions of Morton Feldman. Violin and Orchestra, composed in 1979, marked a new direction, with an almost painterly attention to detail in slowly unfolding music.
"When you think of two American composers exhibiting extremes in method and aesthetics, 20th century giants Morton Feldman and Milton Babbitt are certainly a good example. There are no two men with more opposite views on music and expression. You might think therefore that listening to their music side by side would automatically turn off 50% of the audience. You’d be wrong.
The New York based Phoenix Ensemble has paired Feldman's Clarinet and String Quartet and the world premiere recording of Babbitt's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, and the result shows their deep musical connections. Each benefits from the other’s perspective on texture, color, and time-flow.
Feldman's suspended transparency next to Babbitt's equally striking gnarliness complement one another, and provide a compelling case for the importance and influence of these composers to the American music
scene in recent decades.
The Phoenix Ensemble, with the approval and guidance of Mr. Babbitt, provides a first look into his largely unknown masterwork, and an equally enlightening performance of Feldman's poignantly expressive music." (label info)
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.Amazon.com Review
''I have no problem with notes… none at all'', was Feldman's cryptic comment on For Bunita Marcus. Throughout the seventy-two-minute duration of this extraordinary work, notes coalesce into wisps of melody which drift softly in and out of an immense silence. You are indeed, as pianist Marc-André Hamelin writes in the booklet notes, ''about to enter a world unlike any other.''
One of the characteristics of Morton Feldman's music is the way silences are thrown into stark relief. Each silence - freighted with memory, charged with expectation - becomes a unique presence in the music more than merely an absence of it. Though his silences are measured in units of time, they also contain an intimation of infinity. The music of the "classical" tradition slows down, speeds up, layers and otherwise manipulates time. Of the other arts, only cinema plays with our temporal perception to a greater degree.