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The place Triadic Memories takes us is full of illusions, not only of function and direction but also of timelessness and stasis.
* This 94-minute, single movement work for solo piano is available in two formats: as a specially priced 2-CD set ($19.99) and complete and uninterrupted on one single audio-only DVD ($19.99) * The DVD is presented in uncompressed, high-resolution 96khz/24-bit stereo, playable on any DVD player. * Both the CD and DVD versions have numerous arbitrary track markers to ease navigation through this continuous, one-movement piece. * Recorded from the pianist's perspective, it gives the listener the unique opportunity to hear all of the small nuances and overtones which can be lost in the concert hall. * There is no indication of tempo. For this recording, Ms. Nonken chose a steady eighth-note pulse throughout that approximates the heart rate at rest. Unfolding in time at this rate, the work's geography - its rapturous peaks and long, low valleys - is brought into relief. * Of Ms. Nonken's October 2003 performance of Triadic Memories, John Rockwell wrote in The New York Times: " Ms. Nonken played it with a relaxed, almost rubber-wristed calm, caressing the keys without losing rhythmic definition. A lovely performance of a lovely piece".
From the Artist
Marilyn Nonken, named "Best of the Year" five times by the Boston Globe, has been described by the New York Times as "a pianist from music's leading edge" and a "determined protector of important music." Her repertoire, featuring composers associated with the Second Viennese School, American experimentalism and ultramodernism, Darmstadt, the New York School, Spectralism, and the New Complexity, includes historic works of Ives, Barraqu, Stockhausen, and Ligeti as well as the complete solo piano music of Schoenberg, Boulez, and Tristan Murail. Composers who have written for her include Murail, Milton Babbitt, Mario Davidovsky, Chris Dench, Michael Finnissy, and young Americans such as Jason Eckardt, Paul Nauert, Jeff Nichols, and David Rakowski; she has worked closely with James Dillon, Jonathan Harvey, Alvin Lucier, Salvatore Martirano, and Charles Wuorinen, among others. She has been presented as a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Also an acclaimed chamber musician, Ms. Nonken plays in New York with Ensemble 21 (of which she is a cofounder and Artistic Director) and has appeared as a guest artist with the Group for Contemporary Music, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Elision. For two consecutive seasons, she was featured on Carnegie Hall's "When Morty Met John," a series devoted to the music of Feldman and Cage curated by Joan La Barbara. Ms. Nonken has recorded for New World Records, Albany, Lovely Music, CRI, and Metier Sound and Vision; American Spiritual, a CD of works written for her, was a CRI release. A student of David Burge at the Eastman School, she received a Ph.D. degree in musicology from Columbia University. Her writings have been published in many international journals, and she is the guest editor of "Performers on Performance," an issue of Contemporary Music Review. Ms. Nonken is a Steinway artist.
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I think Nonken understands these points of beauty and how they inable themselves to interface with tempi but I found she trys to make music sometimes,tries to reach for points of comprehension,engaging what the minds already knows, (said Jasper Johns) especially the first 50 minutes, meaning she doesn't allow the music to be simply as it is;To depart from what the mind knows. And this is where this work, works best when we can forget our own musical memory, those gestures engrained in ourselves.Without approaching the pretencious, a piece like this does "cleanse"(a transgressive term) one of one's memory.But I would be remiss here if I didn't admit that a piece of this peace relative tranquility and length does work on the body as well as the mind.So the danger of the work(in performing it) is where it seems to suggest(in shapes and phrases and gestures) more than what it is. And there are many points in the music where this occurs, as the straight eighth notes like art song accompaniment materials.There are similar problems in Feldman's various "concerti" where Stravinskian and the literature of dodecaphonic gestures are suggested "Oboe & Orchestra", "Piano & Orchestra" This is all relative, for she does much of the time let's the work wind and caress over her,like a wind(glass or wood) chimes forests. And I prefer Nonken's recording in the end to all else.
Hinterhausen seems to see with a large telescope where the piece is going a rare feat, for how does one practice this? and again this is all relative folks, Hinterhausen seems to know the distance he needs to travel, and the 'locis' moment to moment musical gestures then seems less compelling than Nonken. Nonken's is more engaging (again a relative term for Feldman) than the Hinterhausen, Nonken virtually finds timbral beauty in each moment The production values in Nonken's (Jason Eckardt's production) trekking to the famous Krannert Center Concert Hall at the University of Illinois Urbana bears much timbral fruit here as we cross the Mediterranean for musical boxes, spices,silks and other musical treasures. Sir Georg Solti also loved this hall, dragging the Chicago Symphony Orchestra down there for recording sessions of Mahler.
We hear each moment as if the piano is right in front of us;an introspective expeience which the music demands. I don't know if "Triadic Memories" is music for the concert venue, it seems better suited as a pure piece of recorded art.
The Tilbury recording as well reaches for beauty from moment to moment, Tilbury has been known to coax the most warmest timbre from the most coldly abstracted pieces of the avant-garde he once played.
"Triadic Memories" has no tempo indication, the performer must choose. Since this will have a profound effect on the structure of the piece, close attention must be paid to the tempo selected. Nonken settles on a pulse that approximates the heartbeat at rest, perhaps to accommodate the listener who will be absorbed in this work for over 90 minutes. Faster and slower tempos have been chosen (Aki Takahashi plays it in just 60 minutes while Marcus Hinterhäuser's reading is over 100), but Nonken's really seems right.
Extra production effort was taken to highlight the resonances in the piano. Feldman once remarked that he wished he could only hear the resonances and not the attack. Since the piano is essentially a percussion instrument (felt hammers hitting strings), this presents a special problem. By choosing a very resonant instrument and recording space (and recording in 24-96 digital), you can hear the aftertones of the piano hang in the air and blend together -- it's almost like a whole new piece inside the piece. As Nonken points out in the 20-minute video that is included with DVD -- get the DVD if you can, it has this bonus plus you can hear the piece uninterrupted in full 24-96 digital sound -- Feldman incorporated "ghost triads" in the resonances that I've not heard on other recordings.
Bravo to Mode for spending the extra coin to make this release so outstanding. If you are looking for the best recording of "Triadic Memories," or are interested in Feldman's music and want to buy your first disc, I'd say look no further.