Sunday, August 12, 2012


Morton Feldman - Crippled Symmetry (Frozen Reeds)

Though I'd heard bits and pieces earlier, I first seriously delved into Feldman (way belatedly) upon the hat[NOW] release of the 1990 session of this same trio performing "Why Patterns?" and "Crippled Symmetry". So for me, these pieces retain a kind of touchstone quality and are always the first things I think of when Feldman's name arises even if, gun to head, I'd save the Tilbury sessions before all else. In truth, as a composition I prefer "Why Patterns?" and in particular count its closing moments, in this performance, as among the most heavenly music I've ever experienced.

"Crippled Symmetry" was written for that trio (Eberhard Blum, flute, alto flute, bass flute; Jan Williams, glockenspiel, vibraphone; Nils Vigeland, piano, celesta) and they thought to perform and record the work a decade after the original session, in 2000, the results of which are before us. I listened to the original just today and it still sounds so great--so warm and expansive, so rich, so wonderfully paced. It's truly beyond my memory capacity to directly compared the two recordings; the piece clocks in at 91 minutes on the 1990 session, a little short of 90 on the new one. This is a live recording and I might opine that the sound quality is a bit drier than the other, but that would be a quibble.

I get the impression that some sections are taken a little quicker, some allotted a tad more time but it's of no real consequence. Feldman's work, interpreted with such sensitivity, stands on its own as an incredibly conceived long-duration composition. I'm guessing that there are no two adjacent measures which are identical, even as the air of similarity and motionlessness immerses one. That "simple" notion of phased patterns with irregular metric relationships to one another vaults you to a fascinating plane, all the more so when played with such attention, when (as does Tilbury) the musicians shade their own playing with slight durational shifts and subtle pressure fluctuations. Feldman's late work breathes like nothing else. One could listen forever.

Apart from this, what else is there to say? You have a great Feldman composition given an loving, deep rendition. Such a beautiful thing. Why would you not want to have this?

frozen reeds

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