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Morton Feldman - For John Cage [Bridge Records - 2018]

Originally composed in 1982 For John Cage is one of the more angular, urgent & flightily moody compositions from the great Morton Feldman. Here from Bridge Records, we have a recent release of 2017 playing of the piece.

Though I've dabbled in the work of many modern classical/ minimalism composers work, Iíve always returned to  Mr. Feldmanís work again & again- finding it the most captivating, distinctive & rich with an often melancholic sentiment & real feeling of sadness.Feldman was a larger-than-life bespeckled composer from Buffalo New York, who wrote 184 pieces between the early 1940ís & mid 1980ís.  His compositions covered orchestral, chamber, and piano works- and he is most known for his often lengthy, quiet & skeletal pattern-based work. For John Cage was written for his friend & major influence John Cage, and itís for Violin & Piano.

Many of Feldmanís pieces duration are dependant on  the pace the musicians play them; as he leaves this element of composition to the players. And the same is with For John Cage, with playing times lasting anywhere between seventy & eighty minutes. The version we have here comes in at seventy-one minutes- so as a result it's one of the more nervy, rapid, and shifting interpretations of the work.

The version we have here was recorded in March of 2017, at the Conrad Prebys Music center in San Diego Californian. The players where pianists Aleck Karis, and violinists Erik Carlson- both have played modern composition around the world, but are presently based in San Diego.

As one would hope/expect the recording here is wonderfully clear, crisp & balanced between both the violin & piano. The pair play the pieces patterns with both great control & depth- making sure the more angular nervy elements flit & dance perfectly, and the more tolling & haunting elements hit home with the right moody depth. I guess you could say the whole work has quite a seesawing quality-that moves between angular & fraught, and sombrely considered- with the two instruments either playing patterns together, apart, or briefly solitary.

For John Cage has always stood as one of my favorite (mid-length) longer works from Feldman, as it perfectly captures a feeling of both taut angularity and sad beauty. A few years back  I was lucky enough to see it performed live at one of the London Colleges, and it was truly spell-binding in a live setting. This is now the fourth playing of the work Iíve heard, and as with the other versions this has itís own feel- which Iíd say is that much tenser & scalpel-like precise in its attack.

Due to sparse, often pattern bound, and lengthy runtime of much Mr Feldmanís compositions, his work is not the easiest to get into. But Iíd say if you're new to his work, this release & itís playing would be a great introduction to the world of Mr Feldman, as itís both forceful & moody- this release can either be bought directly from Bridge or via the likes of Amazon.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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