Fine, indeed, is this immensely intimate, intriguing, disturbing and extraordinary collection of four "experimental" works by Morton Feldman (1926-1987), conducted idiomatically by Zender and played brilliantly by soloists and orchestra, alike.
These pieces, all written in the 70's, the earliest being "Cello and Orchestra" (1972), the latest, "Flute and Orchestra" (1977/78), are compositions truly "of their time"--- the period when a renewed interest in modernists such as Ligeti and Xenakis flourished and peaked, when the innovative last Beatles' chords still resonated in our ears, and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY had left its indelible imprint on our psyches forever. It was a time of love and war, of great change and great movement. Although probably captured more by accident than intention, Feldman's music evokes an era long gone, but not forgotten, and evokes it vividly.
Don't be deceived by the seeming orchestral nature these scores might imply; for the most part, the solo instrument of each separate work takes center stage, literally, and the orchestral forces, though dynamically large in scope, maintain an unexpected, but immensely integrated, supporting role. The soloist speaks; the orchestra listens, punctuates, affirms. Feldman's marvelously instinctive craftsmanship and musicality make it a splendid balance, actually, where none should exist.
This is music profound in its vast imaginative silences, its frozen cosmic emptiness, its sudden orchestral outbursts. Feldman's is a vision that is gripping, disconcerting, deeply probing... and not readily forgotten, or dismissed. It is not "pretty" music, not melodious. No. It can be as bleak as it can be beautiful. But it is a beauty that may be purely subjective. And it is perturbing, at times, to be so penetrated, musically, and, then, caressed. You may well have a love-hate relationship with these works, but it's worth it.
[Running time: CD 1: 51:23 CD 2: 47:57]