- For Bunita Marcus, for solo piano
- Palais de Marie, for piano
- Get it by Wednesday, October 25 , Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Delivery during checkout.
Morton Feldman's late period was characterized by works dedicated to friends, his "For ..." pieces. One of the best-known and most frequently performed is the piano piece "For Bunita Marcus," who was a composition student of his. The work consists of single notes and short patterns of notes spatially notated, without precise rhythmic values. The effect is of a very leisurely improvisation, using a limited number of pitches, played in apparently random manner over the whole expanse of the keyboard. Listeners expecting a structured musical experience governed by conventional musical logic would probably find the piece infuriatingly scattered and pointless. Feldman very consciously rejected musical logic and worked to create music in which the notes follow a course that has nothing to do with traditional forms; he insisted that he never "pushed the notes around," that he let them find their own time and place. The music recorded here is consistently quiet, serene, and without surprises. It's effective either for close listening, savoring the timing and the relationships between notes (which Feldman would certainly have preferred), or as a background for quiet meditation for anyone who appreciates the serenity that quiet music brings, but who is not looking for a new age sound. Feldman's publisher lists the duration of the piece as 75 minutes, but this performance by German pianist Sabine Liebner lasts nearly an hour and a half, and doesn't feel a minute too long. In fact, there are moments early on, in the work's first half hour, when things seem to move too quickly, where patterns that need to sound spontaneous are a little too sharply etched, making the structure of the Feldman's isorhythmic gestures too obvious, and diminishing their mystery and unpredictability. This sense comes partly from Liebner's rhythmic regularity, which seems out of place in Feldman. In the work's last hour, though, those problems subside and Liebner beautifully captures the ephemerality and naturalness Feldman was aiming for. "Palais de Mari," which Feldman also wrote for Bunita Marcus, lasts about 25 minutes and operates in very much the same aesthetic space as the longer work, except that it uses more pitches simultaneously sounding. Liebner's performance here is fully persuasive: thoughtful, unhurried, and atmospheric. The sound of the Oehms Classics release has a little noise that isn't probably going to be noticeable to anyone who turns the volume down to the level that this music seems to call for. The sound could use a little more resonance; the pedal is held down for most of each piece, and the recording doesn't adequately capture the fullness of the sustained notes.