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The Viola In My Life

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 20, 2008
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$19.30 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

"The Viola in my Life" is one of innovative American composer Morton Feldman's most important works. Performed by Norway's versatile chamber group, the Cikada Ensemble and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra under the direction of Christian Eggen.
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Product Details

  • Performer: Marek Konstantynowicz, Cikada Ensemble
  • Orchestra: Norwegian Radio Orchestra
  • Conductor: Christian Eggen
  • Audio CD (May 20, 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B0011DZN70
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,953 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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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.
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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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