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Feldman: Rothko Chapel / Why Patterns?

Morton Feldman , California EAR Unit , UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Rohtko Chapel 1 9:06$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Rothko Chapel 2 4:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Rothko Chapel 3 2:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Rothko Chapel 4 4:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Rothko Chapel 5 2:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Why Patterns?29:29Album Only

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Product Details

  • Performer: California EAR Unit, UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus
  • Composer: Morton Feldman
  • Audio CD (November 18, 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New Albion Records
  • ASIN: B000000R2Z
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,200 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Rothko Chapel by Morton Feldman

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambient Beauty July 30, 2002
Format:Audio CD
Morton Feldman may have been the prototypical minimalist. His music, though varied in effect, tends to consist of very soft, discrete sounds which slowly morph from pattern to pattern. Though his music falls into periods, roughly divided by notational practice (early music uses primarily graphic scores and aleatoric procedures, later scores tend toward more precise notation, though the rhythms still remain approximate), the effect of his output is remarkably the same throughout his life. It is intellectually challenging, beautiful ambient music.
Rothko Chapel, written to be played in the famous Houston space, is a wonderful piece, one that should win new converts to the Feldman cause. It isn't daunting in length, like many later Feldman pieces, yet it retains the sonic beauty and delicacy of instrumental color that makes Feldman unique. The piece is also remarkably tonal, unlike many other Feldman works. The gorgeous hushed soprano solo sounds like a distant call to prayer. Feldman talks in the liner notes of the influence of Hebrew cantilation and you can hear it, although it is much more distant than most cantilation. This work is an example of the best kind of ambient music. It is endlessly fascinating, and yet seems to have a physical presence that does not depend on your concentration. You can listen intently or just let the sound wash over you.
Inclusion of Why Patterns? was a good idea. This work is much more typical of Feldman's style. Written for the combination of flute, glockenspiel and piano, the almost 30 minute work is a slow spinning out of subtley dissonant patterns, all at extremely quiet volume levels. The work doesn't seem to start or stop. It's as if we are dropping in on an eternal piece of music, hanging around a while and then leaving again.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect evocation April 5, 2000
Format:Audio CD
"Rothko Chapel" was composed for the dedication of the de Menil chapel, for which Mark Rothko created some of his final paintings. The space, in Houston TX, is a downtown quiet space, for contemplation, with only the dark colorfields of Rothko's work as a visual point of focus. The work here is a very beautiful and equally dark counterpoint to those canvases, evocative of both the sense of visual diffusion as well as the inner mystery they seem to conceal within their colorfields. Sometimes seeming like some mysterious shrouded procession, at other times like a distant call to prayer, and with a recurrant vocal figure of a solo voice, evoking a sense of both innocence and encantory devotion, the piece is one of Feldman's shortest but most powerful. And the version performed here is excellent, with very precise yet human performance characteristics...which is just what's required, as a rule, to make Feldman's music 'work'. The accompanying work, "Why Patterns?", is a self-answering rhetorical question...the work asks the question, then answers it perfectly, demonstrating just _why_ Feldman's work from the 1960s onward concentrated on pattern-based structures. This piece reminds me of Philip Glass or Steve Reich's work...but far more understated, with subtile dissonances that would be unheard-of in those two 'minimalists' works. Again, very sensitive and precise playing here from the CA EAR Unit. A highly recommended CD, and a great starting-point release for those who've heard of...but not heard...Morton Feldman's work.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible Feldman -- music for a peace chapel September 12, 2001
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
"Rothko Chapel" is the most accessible of Feldman's compositions. It sounds like Debussy, with spare, lyrical strings, chimes, and an enchanting soprano, Deborah Dietrich on this recording (there is at least one other, on Col Legno). Feldman, a friend of the painter Rothko, constructed this tribute in four sections as "an immobile procession not unlike the friezes on Greek temples," to accompany the Houston exhibit of 14 canvasses in 1972.

(In July of 2006 I visited the Rothko Chapel, which is part of the Menil Collection. It is a dark space, with the very dark Rothkos on the walls -- it feels more like a crypt, or a bomb shelter, than a chapel, but it is still active, with various events sponsored by any and all religions, including events promoting peace.)

The exquisite "Rothko Chapel" alone would be an utterly uncharacteristic introduction to Feldman. Fortunately, in that sense, this disc also includes "Why Patterns?", which is an excellent and far more representative piece. From 1978, for flute, glockenspiel and piano, it unfolds like a delicate spiral, invoking a sense of wonder.

As a reminder that packages might as well be attractive too, New Albion uses Rothko's "Red Over Dark Blue on Dark Gray" (1961) for the cover -- perfecto!
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark and Eerie July 25, 2004
By M. Hori
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
A repetitive chorus of female voices, moaning, wailing, like a train heard passing from nowhere to nowhere at three in the morning, this is the coldest offering to the ear I've ever heard. And yet, somehow, it fits both Rothko's work and the manner of his death. After the Zen no-mind of the first four tracks, Feldman embraces his listeners and--by proxy--Rothko's spirit--in the 5th track, which offers us a "warm" and charming cello motif, that the composer, in his collected writings, tells us he composed at age 15. Rothko Chapel is then, a radical listening experience of "outside" (as in interstellar space), and "inside" (as in some catchy riff lifted from Dvorak's "American").

"Why Patterns" is more familiar Feldman territory: think aural disjunction, fragmentation, etc.

Exciting, challenging, memorable--these are the three key words I would apply to this CD.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Peaceful & Still
It is one of my favourite albums to close my day with. Highly recommended, especially if you are a fan of what some call minimalism but what I call music with time and space for... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Christopher Sanderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Liner notes not included.
My complaint is not with the work or the recording. The problem is that this CD (sold by Amazon) is a cheap reproduction of the original New Albion issue and does not include the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by GORDON WELLER
This is absolutely beautiful music, a set of short pieces, two to nine minutes in length, five in all, that somehow evoke the feeling of fullness, colors both static and in (very,... Read more
Published on June 27, 2011 by David Keymer
5.0 out of 5 stars Approachable Feldman
Cage's influence on Feldman is obvious in most of the latter's works, and certainly also in the works on this disc. Read more
Published on January 16, 2009 by G.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars My introduction to Morton Feldman
A friend of mine said I should check out Rothko Chapel. He said when he was in college he would go out and play golf and bake in the sun while listening to Rothko Chapel. Read more
Published on June 29, 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars not quite soporific
Most of the music on this cd is very very sparing -- long tones with real silence between notes. But Morty Feldman also flirts with the baroque in these meticulously composed... Read more
Published on March 21, 2003 by I X Key
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful
now one thing you should know about this guy is that his stuff is very sparse. all of his pieces are simple and beautiful. Read more
Published on July 13, 2001 by Slanted and Recanted
5.0 out of 5 stars Among voices all their own, a voice all his own
Within the oft befuddled stylistic wash of the 20th century, we have our camps, our geniuses, our individuals, our movement-founding demigods... Read more
Published on April 9, 2001 by Justin Weaver
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