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Sunday, January 08, 2006

I own a CD of Piano and String Quartet by Morton Feldman, a 79 minute and 33 second piece of intense quietude and stark beauty. Beautiful, but I've never been able to sit through the whole thing. Maybe I'm too busy. Tonight, I just came upstairs to go to bed before it was over. I left the CD playing, giving the impression that the music lasts forever. It seemed to suit the music, to leave it in the middle, leaving me to imagine it goes on forever.
I have that disc as well. I picked it up used up in Capitol Hill if I remember correctly. I'm pretty sure they picked up the tempo quite a bit to fit everything on one CD. It is exquisite stuff, though.

Come to think of it, there are a number of live Feldman pieces that I left part way through just to keep from missing the last subway of the evening. The elongated textures of his longer works seem to invite dropping in and out both physically and mentally.

The Flux Quartet recording of Feldman's "String Quartet No. 2" is excellent. And on a sick day at home I sat through all 8 hours at once.
Thanks Devin. I'm not at all surprised to learn that Kronos & the pianist had to speed things up to fit in the 80-minute time barrier, which they just barely slid under.

One of these days, I'll make it through the CD. I'm curious to experience how the thing feels as a whole.
I heard the premiere of this piece the year that New Music America was in LA (1986, I think). The performance ran longer than the scheduled 60 minutes, which apararently caused a problem with the evening of the community radio station that broadcast the performance live. A friend made a tape of that broadcast, which I can't find now, but I know that it fit onto a ninety minute cassette with some room to spare.

So, if the performance on the CD is sped up, it's not sped up very much.

& if the Flux quartet's CDs (or DVD) of the second string quartet runs 8 hours at your house, you've got some kind of mechanical problem. The recording "only" lasts a few minutes longer than 6 hours.

I agree that sick days are a good way to catch up on Feldman's longer pieces, though. I lived inside the first recording of For Phillip Guston on continual repeat for a few feverish days one winter while living in a bleak basement apartment just north of the U District & that experience irrevocably helped and/or warped my sense of time in all of Feldman's long late works.
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