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Morton Feldman - The Viola In My Life

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Morton Feldman - The Viola In My Life + Morton Feldman: Violin and Orchestra + Patterns in a Chromatic Field
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Product details

1. The Viola in My Life I
2. The Viola in My Life II
3. The Viola in My Life III
4. The Viola in My Life IV

Product Description

Product Description

Polish viola player Marek Konstantynowicz and his colleagues in the Cikada Ensemble, one of Europe's leading contemporary music groups, perform 'The Viola in My Life' by American composer Morton Feldman (1926-87). A four-part cycle characterized by soft dynamics, stillness and melodic fragments, it climaxes in a movement for viola and orchestra, here the Norwegian Radio Orchestra with conductor Christian Eggen.

Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was one of the most important and influential American composers of the 20th century. His music is characterized by soft dynamics, stillness, and often, particularly in his later pieces, extreme length. He was a friend of John Cage and many prominent artists in 1950s New York including composers Earle Brown and Christian Wolff, painters Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg and pianist David Tudor. The painters in particular influenced Feldman to search for his own sound world, resulting in his experimentations with graphic notation and player improvisation.

Feldman wrote all four of The Viola in My Life pieces in the early 1970s for American viola player Karen Phillips: "[It] was begun in Honolulu in July 1970 and consists of individual compositions utilizing various instrumental combinations (small and large) with viola. Unlike most of my music, the complete cycle is conventionally notated as regards pitches and tempi. I needed the exact time proportion underlying the gradual and slight crescendo characteristic of all the muted sounds the viola plays. It was this aspect that determined the rhythmic sequence of events." The last is an orchestral 'translation' of material used in the three chamber pieces preceding it.

Marek Konstantynowicz (viola), Cikada Ensemble: Kersti Walldén (flute), Terje Lerstad (clarinet), Bjørn Rabben (percussion), Kenneth Karlsson (piano, celesta), Odd Hannisdal (violin), Morten Hannisdal (violoncello), Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Christian Eggen (conductor)


(4 stars) Among Feldman's friendliest, most compact pieces. Limpid beauty shines from Marek Konstantynowicz's performances. Surrender to the spell. -- The Times, (Geoff Brown), March 28, 2008

Feldman is ever intriguing...super-smooth but never bland, open-hearted yet a tissue of enigmas...compelling...a surprisingly melodic concerto. -- The Sunday Times, (Paul Driver), March 30, 2008

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Feldman Fans - You'll Appreciate This 23 April 2009
By Thomas Gleim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I don't know about you, but I just can't seem to get enough of the music of Morton Feldman, no matter how many CDs of it I buy. I'll assume that if you're here reading this, then you're either already a Feldman admirer or, at the least, that you aren't afraid of the mid-twentieth century avant-garde in general or the "New York School" in particular. Let's discuss the music first, then the performance.

Feldman wrote _The Viola in my Life_ for violist Karen Phillips. It's in four parts, the first three written in 1970, and the fourth in 1971. Each part is scored differently, the first three for various chamber ensembles, the last for viola and orchestra. Each part could certainly stand on its own, yet the parts make an integrated whole despite the different make-up of the performing forces. _Viola_ marked a new direction for Feldman, turning away from the indeterminacy of earlier compositions to a predetermined sound world in which the composer exerted control over all the major elements of the music. The piece itself anticipates the feel of some of the later grand canvases (_Patterns in a Chromatic Field_, _Crippled Symmetries_, etc.), if lacking their scope and intricacy. It's exquisite, and if you appreciate the beauty of Feldman's writing, you certainly want the piece in your collection.

This new ECM disc, performed by (mostly) Norwegian musicians, offers a really first rate performance, completely in sync with the Feldman aesthetic. The real question for the prospective buyer is whether to get this recording or the recording the composer conducted with dedicatee Karen Phillips playing viola. That latter recording (which I haven't heard) would seem to have a superior pedigree. On the other hand, it was recorded in 1970, when the composer hadn't yet written the fourth part of the work, so it's incomplete. If you want an excellent reading of the complete work, this one is highly recommended.

The liner notes contain an essay by Paul Griffiths on the composition and its place in Feldman's oeuvre, in English and German.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A proper ECM production 26 May 2009
By J. Rozler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Although I hadn't heard many of the several CD versions of "The Viola In My Life," I felt choosing the ECM release to be a no-brainer. I was not disappointed. The sound is gorgeous and the performance estimable. Like only a small handful of Feldman's middle-period works, TVIML has a sense of drama, even portentousness, which is well borne in this performance.
Having previously owned only the original LP on the CRI label, the fourth movement for Viola and Orchestra is entirely new to me, and an excellent addition to the work as I've known it.
While the entire CD clocks in at only about forty minutes, I feel it was a good programming choice to present The Viola In My Life as the only work on this release. "Filling out" the disc with other selections would only serve to weaken the impact of this important work, which deserves to stand on its own.
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