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Violin and String Quartet Limited Edition


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Audio CD, Limited Edition, January 1, 2001
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Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Violin and String Quartet: BeginningChristina Fong58:54Album Only


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Violin and String Quartet: ConclusionChristina Fong58:30Album Only

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Product Details

  • Performer: Christina Fong
  • Orchestra: Rangzen Quartet
  • Composer: Morton Feldman
  • Audio CD (January 1, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Limited Edition
  • Label: OgreOgress productions
  • ASIN: B00005UV4G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,045 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Fifth in a series with previously unreleased works by well-known composers, this 117-minute 2CD set features the first release of Morton Feldman's mammoth work.

Review

Morton Feldman's large scale work simply entitled Violin and String Quartet commences with the violin soloist contemplating the minor seventh interval A to G over and over again, in no predictable rhythmic configuration, while confronted by soft, dissonant chord clouds from the other musicians. The clouds quietly disintegrate as the entrances become more staggered. Ten minutes or so into the piece, Feldman refines the opening gestures, expanding the interval leaps, and voicing chord clusters in numerous configurations. At the 22-minute mark, Feldman arrives back where he started, but in a parallel universe, so to speak, with the aforementioned minor seventh transformed into a major ninth (G to A), the chord clouds fuller of body, and increased rhythmic momentum. Before you've noticed, the harmonic motion has grown more protracted when the time comes to switch discs. Continue listening, and you'll arrive at a soothing, yet somewhat darker lower-register variation on the opening material at the 13-minute mark (remember, we're on disc two). There's a poignant stretch of music between 26 and 31 minutes where the slowly reiterated chords take on a lush harmonic character, giving way to a section made up of staggered major ninths moving in opposite directions. Faster moving sustained chords ensue, but now coloured by discreetly placed pizzicatos, the first plucked notes we've heard in this piece. Soon all the instruments stack up the aforementioned minor ninth, sometimes in canon, sometimes together, all to intense, claustrophobic effect. Fortunately, an oasis in the form of a steady procession of short-breathed sustained chords lies ahead. On paper this music looks simple to play, even sight-read, yet to control the composer's pinpointed dynamics, rhythms, and articulations is easier said than done, let alone holding a listener's attention for nearly two hours. Suffice it to say that violinist Christina Fong and the Rangzen Quartet succeed on all these counts, and make a compelling case for this previously unrecorded score. --Jed Distler, Gramophone, August 2002

This premiere recording of the companion to Feldman's widely known Piano and String Quartet follows on from violinist Christina Fong's scintillating recordings of Cage's valedictory number pieces. Fong has a penchant for dealing with the demands of pacing extended structures, and with The Rangzen Quartet she brilliantly captures Feldman's icy introspection and weeping lyricism. The first hour finds the solo violin pushing against the tart, asphyxiating harmonies of the string quartet, filling the listener with expectant intrigue. In its final hour, Feldman's harmonies and textures gradually pare down until shellshocked pizzicato figures push against blurred tunings. It's quite a trip -- disturbing and fulfilling in equal measure -- making a revealing contrast to the erotic sound world of Piano and String Quartet. --Philip Clark, The Wire, June 2002

Two hours of sighs, whispers, murmurs, and tremolos from a string quartet etherealized further by a solo violin floating above. That's what you get with this epic anti-epic from 1985 by Morton Feldman. Feldman's admirers regard him as the most significant composer of our time. It's a hard case to make for something so minimal; this piece in particular seems less like music than music's ghost -- a pure essence that denies anything remotely substantial or corporeal. 'Let's get out of here before it starts to develop,' Debussy once said to a friend following the exposition in the opening of a Beethoven symphony; Feldman's music is the ultimate manifestation of that stance. Unlike Webern, who sometimes did develop his tiny cells, if only for a moment, Feldman creates the smallest musical materials imaginable, only to have them slowly vanish. Still, Feldman is a distinct, instantly recognizable voice (or anti-voice) -- something that cannot be said for many recent composers. This is the first recording of the Violin and String Quartet, making it an important release. One thing that is not minimal about this work is the length, but the Rangzen Quartet, enhanced by the spectral violin of Christina Fong, seems undaunted by two hours of musical self-denial. With elegant professionalism, they work hard to say as little as possible. Feldman may not be the greatest composer of our time, as his cultish advocates assert, but he may well be the greatest for insomniacs. This mysterious, wispy stuff is very close to a pure dream state, perhaps the best 3 AM music ever. --Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide, July/August 2002

Customer Reviews

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Order a set and enjoy the exceptional experience.
Jeff Redmond
Visual images sring into the mind readily when listening to the music of Morton Feldman, more so than many other contermporary composers.
Christopher Forbes
This is a great-sounding and well-performed recording of Feldman's work for "Violin and String Quartet."
chiavere

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Forbes on January 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Visual images sring into the mind readily when listening to the music of Morton Feldman, more so than many other contermporary composers. Each work seems related to it's own artistic medium. This work, which would seem on the face of it to share some of the sound world of Feldman's String Quartets, is in reality a much different piece of work, and a transcendently lovely one at that.
While many of Feldman's late works have an mobile like quality, or a crystalline presence, this work is more of a watercolor. The means of the work are quite simple - like Piano and String Quartet, the quartet plays shimmering clusters of tone, which almost imperceptably shift shape as you listen, while the solo violin plays contrasting material made up of mostly small note cells, some only two or three notes long, some just a sustained harmonic. The result is transparent, akin to the black and white paint and drip images of Robert Motherwell or the calligraphic simplicity of Zen ink painting. It can be a difficult world to enter for the uninitiated. Very little seems to happen in this piece, and it lasts for almost two hours, (rather short actually in the time scale of Feldman's late work). But underneath the surface symmetry is a host of subtle details that make for mesmerizing listening for those who can submerge themselves in Feldman's unique environment.
Christina Fong and the Rangzen Quartet play this music beautifully, up there with the Kronos, Ives and Flux Quartets. Late Feldman is notoriously difficult, even though the sound is pristine and serene. Feldman writes in all of the variations in rhythmic detail directly into the piece. This, plus the inordinate legnth makes any late Feldman piece an edurance test for the performer. And yet, on this disc, you are only aware of the calmness of the surface.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Will on July 1, 2012
Format: Audio CD
One quote of Feldman's that sticks out: "Music should be listened to sitting in plush red seats." Maybe that's why when I listen to any of his late period pieces in my stereo and lay down, there's a feeling of sinking into the bed. 'Violin and String Quartet' is no different, exchanging the occasionally pointed sections of his String Quartets with beautiful undulation for the two hour duration. It pairs extraordinarily well with pillow top mattresses.

I've always found OgreOgress's sound to be warm, and this piece particularly benefits from their production in regards to the soloist Fong's part. The incessant high pitches that for me characterize and mar some of Feldman's late period pieces find their way into this score at times, but her sensitive and airy bowing softens those sections and I hear the piece in a new way. Her feel for the music is evident. The Hat Hut is the only other release of this that I own, and while I find Hat Hut's micing to be more intimate, I prefer the OgreOgress for the overall listening experience. It's as if a knowing observer opens a door for you into the music's world, but instead of opening their mouths to provide a framework, they merely look at you, inviting you to experience. The players impart the label's fervor for the music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Flapjack on June 9, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is a haunting work. Like most of Feldman's late music, it seems to suspend time with is minimal tonal changes and repetition, while maintaining a dark, exotic beauty. For the new listener of Morton Feldman, I would recommend Morton Feldman: Crippled Symmetry. This would make a good second purchase for someone wanting to dive into one of his longer ambient soundscapes. It's only two hours long. And there is something in the motifs here that I find more engaging than in the more popular Piano and String Quartet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Redmond on February 21, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Among the more than two dozen CD and Audio DVD achievements of OgreOgress, there have been the first recordings of music by Alan Hovaness, Arnold Schonberg, John Cage, and Robert Shechtman. There are also some truly mystical Tibetan Tantric chants and other such unique presentations.

The Morton Feldman 2001 first release of his Violin and String Quartet masterpiece is one of these. For those who enjoy specializing in the different and avant garde, the music for meditation genres, and the fantastic "weirdness" of eclecticism, this two CD work is definitely a must buy.

Feldman (1926 - 1987) was born in Brooklyn, and became a leader of so-called "indeterminate music" with the New York School of composers. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Kiev in the Ukraine, escaping the pogroms of Czarist Russia before the First World War.

Feldman didn't begin composing until the 1950s, but eventually found serious inspiration from the artwork of the abstract expressionists. Music combined with art became a permanent motif among these pioneers. With encouragement from John Cage and others, Feldman began to write pieces which had no relation to compositional systems of the past. These were such as the constraints of traditional harmony or the serial technique.

He experimented with non-standard systems of musical notation, often using grids in his scores. He'd specify how many notes should be played at a certain time, but not which ones. Feldman's experiments with the use of chance in his composition in turn inspired John Cage to write pieces like the Music of Changes, where the notes to be played are determined by consulting the I Ching.
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