The beauty of reviews and mp3 downloads is that they allow you to pick and choose which tracks you can download. The other reviews warned me off the coupling to "Rothko Chapel" so I simply downloaded the five tracks of "Rothko Chapel". It still works out at value for money, costing less than the full album download. "Why Patterns", therefore, doesn't get reviewed here but, on reflection, it's tougher nature might make for a more rewarding experience - it seems other reviewers don't think so.
Feldman's work amounts to a contemplative, expressive form of minimalism; often covering long time frames. If that sounds like a marathon then "Rothko Chapel" at twenty five minutes or so makes a gentle and accessible introduction to his music. I can't fault the performance or the recording, which are clear and well defined. The music itself is less chromatic than many of Feldman's works but the modal viola melody in the concluding section still comes as a surprise - sounding somewhere between Bloch and Vaughan Williams.
The work was written to accompany the opening of the Chapel and duly did so but by then Rothko himself had committed suicide. It must be tempting, therefore, to see this as an elegy to Mark Rothko rather than contemplation on the works in the Chapel. The title doesn't call it an elegy or "in memoriam"; it is specifically called "Rothko Chapel". Therein lies the problem: if you see the music as an elegy it works very well but as a contemplation of Rothko's sublime masterpiece it has an impossible job. Perhaps the concluding viola melody is the elegy attached to the work after the contemmplation of the Chapel.
Not for the first time the way you listen to a work is driven by the context it is taken in. "Rothko Chapel" is a beautiful work, worthy of four stars with or without the back story; a finely controlled, balanced, easy to follow and overtly beautiful contemplation but if Rothko's paintings gets five stars then Feldman's work stands a little below that: Still highly recommended and enjoyable for all that.