Morton Feldman: Composing by Numbers - The Graphic Scores, 1950-67

Morton Feldman: Composing by Numbers - The Graphic Scores, 1950-67

by Barton Workshop


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Morton Feldman: Composing by Numbers - The Graphic Scores, 1950-67

Like fellow composers John Cage, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown, Morton Feldman experimented for a time with graphic notation, and toyed with the various possibilities of this looser, less prescriptive method. While free of serialist clichés and conventions, the musical results on Composing by Numbers are subject to the limitations of the players' collective imagination, and tend toward a rarefied pointillism -- a cliché in its own right -- that only a devoted fan can follow with persistence. If the brief pieces from the 1950s are heard individually, they seem frustratingly airy, abrupt, and aphoristic; but if heard in sequence, then the changes of instrumentation and different timbral effects at least provide some aural relief. Perhaps most satisfying for its spectral textures, continuity, and length is "Intersection I" (1951), which the Barton Workshop realizes with much fuller harmonies and richer sonorities. "Out of Last Pieces," "The Straits of Magellan" (both 1961), and "In Search of an Orchestration" (1967) are more active than the earlier "Projections," and adventurous listeners may appreciate these later compositions for their greater complexity and tension. The ensemble, alternately conducted by James Fulkerson and Jos Zwaanenburg, specializes in the more arcane and experimental music of the late avant-garde, and its explorations of Feldman's graphic scores are a welcome addition to the catalog, even if they are not as absorbing or compelling as many of his later efforts.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/26/2005
Label: Mode
UPC: 0764593014621
catalogNumber: 146
Rank: 75344


  1. Projection 1, for solo cello
  2. Projection 2, for flute, trumpet, violin, cello & piano
  3. Projection 3, for 2 pianos
  4. Projection 4, for violin & piano
  5. Projection 5, for 3 flutes, trumpet, piano, violin & cello
  6. Intersection 1, for large orchestra
  7. Marginal Intersection, for large orchestra
  8. Intersection 2, for piano
  9. Intersection 3, for piano
  10. Intersection 4, for cello
  11. Out of "Last Pieces", for orchestra
  12. The Straits of Magellan, for flute, horn, trumpet, harp, electric guitar, piano & bass
  13. In Search of an Orchestration, for orchestra

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