One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement


We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987)
Piano and String Quartet (1985) [79:11]
Vicki Ray (piano)
Eclipse Quartet
rec. 8 February 2011, Firehouse Recording Studio, Pasadena, CA.
BRIDGE 9369 [79:00]

Experience Classicsonline

When music is at its best, it can take us places. It can transport us to other worlds. It can elicit new feelings within us, and it can change the way we see the world. Music is much more than just enjoyable sounds, if we are willing to let it enter into our inner selves. Not all music has this power. Some music is too simple, too predictable to have any effect other than to provide simple entertainment. Some music contains multitudes, is full of complexities that connect with us on a deep level. Sometimes it is a tune, one that has just the right intervals, twists and leaps on a scale, that enters into our minds at the right time, becoming memorable. Sometimes it is a texture, the way instruments interact, that reveals something profound.
Morton Feldman's music has that second characteristic: it is often about texture, about interaction, about a fabric that is woven by the music. His melodies are sparse, and they build up over time, notably through repetition. They become familiar, until, at each appearance, we greet them like acquaintances. Throughout Piano and String Quartet, one of his last works - it was composed in 1985; Feldman died in 1987 - a simple arpeggio, which is the first thing one hears in the piece, becomes a repeating rhythmic motif which is repeated over and over with different chords. This arpeggio could recall Satie's piano music. Each time we hear this arpeggio, it is another brick in the huge edifice that is the 80-minute work. And that's not long for Feldman; some of his late works last three, even six hours. At times, it is the piano that plays the arpeggio; at times the string quartet. Its actual form - the spaces between the notes - varies over time, and the time signatures of the work vary as well, almost imperceptibly shifting from one to another for brief periods.
At other times, the string quartet comes to the front, playing slightly dissonant chords, with just enough bite to be chromatic, in a rhythm like that of our breath. Yet that arpeggio is still there, in the background, deconstructed, as the piano comes and goes, its own rhythmic structure altered slightly from its first appearances. The six notes of the arpeggio seem to by trying out all the possibilities that the piano could play with these pulsing strings.
Feldman's music is that of gradual change. It could be called minimalist, though "minimalism" is generally considered to be music that has stricter, more rigid repetitions, notably based on regular, sustained rhythm. Feldman's music is not like that; there is no rigidity. In his later works, there is an almost mystical feeling, as though the music is trying to touch eternity through its silences, its amorphous rhythms, and its sparse sounds. It also challenges the listener: at 80 minutes, Piano and String Quartet demands a great deal of attention. His String Quartet II, at around six hours, is essentially beyond attention. But the investment one makes in listening to a work like this is paid off by the discovery of something new, something hidden, something inside the listener that has been waiting to be exposed to the light.
A work like this is not for everyone. If your preferred type of music is, say, Mozart or Haydn, then Feldman's music is the antithesis of the lively, strictly organized music of the classical period. If you find twelve-tone music attractive, Feldman's melodic approach may be too diatonic. While he uses chromaticism, it is not extreme, and is, in some ways, attenuated by the slowness of the music.
In the liner-notes to this work, composer David Lang says, "This is music without a tune. This is music without a traditional sense of harmonic motion. [...] This is music that is intensely repetitive but completely unpredictable." Feldman created unique sound-worlds unlike those of any other composer. They require listeners who are prepared to make a commitment over time, but also to adopt a musical approach that is beyond conventional rules and habits. In stripping music to its degré zéro, Feldman brought listeners face to face with themselves, with their expectations of what music could be.
So this recording - how does it fare? There are a few recordings of this work, notably one by Aki Takahashi and the Kronos Quartet, released in 1993. As to be expected with music of this type, there is little latitude for performers to "interpret" the music, but Vicki Ray and the Eclipse Quartet provide an impeccable performance, with a crystalline sound from beginning to end. Their recording is a bit louder than the Takahashi/Kronos recording, but just a bit. The score is entirely in ppp, and this music is meant to be listened at a very low volume.
While I say there aren't that many differences between the two recordings, I also feel that the world needs more recordings of Feldman's music, if only so that more people can chance upon it and discover this composer's realms. As such, kudos to Bridge Records for recording this, but also for having released several other Feldman works, notably such long works as for Christian Wolff, Crippled Symmetry and for Philip Guston, all multi-disc releases.
Feldman's music is an acquired taste, but if you have never listened to it, this work is an excellent place to start. If you do know his music, and don't have this work, then you should. Period.
Kirk McElhearn
Kirk McElhearn writes about more than just music on his blog Kirkville

See review by Paul Corfield Godfrey










































































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.