Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Feldman : For Bunita Marcus - Reinbert de Leeuw

This was my introduction to the music of Morton Feldman. Not quite knowing what to expect, I put on the CD of Kildegard Kleeb, whose cool, luminous reading I still like a lot. And that was it: next time I was in London, I bought the score and started exploring the curiously mediculous and yet almost empty score. The rhythmic notation is utterly precise, designed to avoid any sense of a continuing pulse. The consequence of this is that you have to read the piece counting semiquavers at a manic speed in order to hear the rhythmic patterns exactly as Feldman wrote them. It's quite a tiring piece to work on, believe me!

The excellent and cosmopolitan Ivan Ilic  gave a concert here about a year ago in which he replaced the advertised programme with a radically different one. The reason was, he said, that he had encountered Feldman, and was completely rethinking his relationship with sound. As a pianist, he explained, you are constantly thinking about the attack of each note, weighting it, delivering it. But the body of the note is the sound that continues on, beyond your control. Because it's beyond your control you tend to pay less attention to it, but once you start listening, your whole relationship with music changes.

I have to say that the effect was noticeable on his playing. And yes, he did play some Feldman. Though not this vast work, lasting over an hour I warn you. 

The recording is live, which means, alas, that some Dutch people with terminal lung cancer are, apparently, cared for in their last moments at concerts rather than, as is usual here, at a hospice. But the concentration and energy of a live performance give this recording a special edge. This is music that is actually happening as you hear it. de Leew's playing is clear and light. 

See what you think.

Recorded 6 June, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
Download from Rapidshare

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