Feldman: For Christian Wolff reviewed

My latest contribution to Musical Pointers is online:

Morton Feldman: For Christian Wolff
California Ear Unit: Dorothy Stone, flute; Vicki Ray, piano, celesta

BRIDGE 9279A/C (Three Hours, Three Discs)

Every CD of late, long Feldman represents a tremendous luxury. To have the time, the silence and the comfortable surroundings to listen closely and carefully for several hours to a single piece of music is not something everyone can afford these days.

A full afternoon in the company of Feldman is not, however, a luxury like a trip to the spa. It is hard work, frequently tedious, and exhausting without even the endorphin compensation of running a marathon. The luxury comes from the transgressive indulgence in something that runs so spectacularly contrary to the social, political and commercial demands of contemporary art.

Read more here.


2 thoughts on “Feldman: For Christian Wolff reviewed

  1. Tim,
    Good call on the recording; I have to admit I have failed to keep watch for such notable releases, and am glad to see this has been released and that you have taken the time to write about it. A few footnotes I’d like to add:

    This recording is significant on several counts: because Feldman’s work defies the recorded medium and, at best, should be experienced live; therefore the mere task of recording such a work is a monument in itself. Second, the EAR Unit, at least most of them, but significantly Dorothy Stone, were friends of Morton Feldman and have an intimate understanding of his works. That is why they have committed two of his largest (For Philip Guston) and most difficult (Crippled Symmetry) to recording, and Feldman in fact conferred with ‘cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick during the composition of Patterns in a Chromatic Field. This makes the EAR Unit uniquely qualified to commit a work of this magnitude to recording.

    Lastly, Dorothy Stone passed away unexpectedly last year. This is one of her last recordings. Her ability and patient contemplation of any work prior to committing it to recording was a real testament to what it means to create a ‘permanent record’ of performance. Her standards were incredibly high – I am not certain what stage the recording was in at the time of her death. But I do know that, whatever material was recorded, it was of the highest, most intensely considered quality and will stand as a bench mark for anyone bold enough to perform a mammoth work like this.

    Recordings such as these offer us access to otherwise scarcely available work – we have to thank the likes of the EAR Unit for their commitment to keeping these works alive!

  2. Nicholas,

    Thanks for all your comments, and for reminding me about Dorothy’s passing. I had realised this, but should have noted it in the review. I agree absolutely about the standard of her playing here, and of the EAR’s work in general.


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