Morton Feldman - For Christian Wolff

reposting an anonymous person's generous contribution to Classical Connection as Knowby doesn't seem keen on posting them himself (I guess because technically some of them are not out of print, just costly).

not for the casual listening set, from all the Feldman I have heard, this one is the most daunting. extreme in terms of limited pallette, slow development (commonly mistaken as monotony), and what can be perceived as a pervasive, all encompassing sense of desolation. similar to For Phillip Guston in its massive scale and endless labrynthine weave, but more austere and difficult for the non-initiated - taken as a whole, this requires perhaps more patience than most care to excercise. yet for the dedicated listener or if taken in pieces, For Christian Wolff can be a deeply satisfying experience. for more concise and easier to digest music by Feldman look no further than Crippled Symmetry, some of his piano or piano and strings works, or any of the shorter pieces.

no time to further wax poetic on this very worthy subject, so I've carefully excerpted and edited other people's reviews:

from a review of live concert in the New York Times:

... ''For Christian Wolff'' is music whose internal clock has stopped. It offers us the moment, invites us to forget what has already happened and discourages any curiosity about the future. Mr. Wolff was on hand to honor his late colleague. His introductory words - which said little about either the music, the composer or himself - seemed terribly appropriate to the occasion.

Listeners seduced by music's customary linear thought might have noticed some sort of chronology here. It was almost an hour before the first solid interval appeared from Mr. Vigeland's keyboards, and then not long after there were actual chords. After an hour and a quarter the big intervals from Mr. Blum's flute condensed to close chromatic ones, followed by rhythmically striking passages alternating these scale notes between the instruments. ...

from Scarecrow "ginz1" (Chicago, Illinoise) / via Amazon.com

The creative agenda at work for Feldman here is as the minimalist canon, the slow transformations of timbre, not quite as predictable or simpleminded as Glass, for Feldman had other items to dissect and exploit,i.e., the pure beauty and quality of sound,register,density,regions nurtured. This "For Christian Wolff" has to be the longest piece for Flute and Piano, at least Pierre Yves Artaud thinks so. A piece nearly 4 hours. So you might say, what fantastically oceanic agenda has Feldman prepared to sail the musical long durational seas?? for that length of time. Nothing immediately apprarent; simply like turning and returning blades of grass,their shapes and designs and structures over and over, that's the agenda. Feldman's intuition for timbre and density is what in the end makes a piece of this length listenable at all. ... In one of the last Darmstadt Lectures,in 1986 Feldman speaks about the concept of "flute" that he really doesn't think of the flute timbre as present in his mind, he simply places some abstract phanthom distance, and proceeds to manipulate the materials. ...


Morton Feldman 'For Christian Wolff' (comp 1986, HatHut 1992)

Eberhard Blum - flute
Nils Vigeland - piano, celesta

rec 16,17/6/92









marxbert said...

awesome! thank you very much

greattime said...

Can you re-upload "For Christian Wolf", please. Because now all links are dead(.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could get hold of this. Cannot find it anywhere. Any chance of re-uping?

Miles Pflanz said...