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Violin and String Quartet

Limited Edition

Audio CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Limited Edition, January 1, 2001
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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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Violin and String Quartet: Beginning

Disc: 2

  1. Violin and String Quartet: Conclusion


Product details

  • Performer: Christina Fong
  • Orchestra: Rangzen Quartet
  • Composer: Morton Feldman
  • Audio CD (January 1, 2001)
  • Limited Edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Limited Edition
  • Label: OgreOgress productions
  • ASIN: B00005UV4G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #744,864 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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