- For Christian Wolff, for flute & piano
The temporal scale of many of Morton Feldman's late works can be vast, though the performing forces and musical events within them are quite small and intimate, as in "For Christian Wolff," a piece of nearly three hours' duration for flute, piano, and celesta. Along with the other expansive works of Feldman's great burst of creativity before his death in 1987 -- "For Philip Guston," "For John Cage," and the six-hour "String Quartet II" -- "For Christian Wolff" is extreme in length, suggesting the idea or feeling of infinity without being infinite; but the attention paid to the smallest detail is equally important, suggesting the uniqueness and immediacy of each moment among many such moments. This is static music of the most exquisite fragility that almost overwhelms in its demands of the performers and listeners. To sit through the 2005 recording by the California EAR Unit requires considerable patience and Sitzfleisch, and the physical endurance and artistic commitment that flutist Dorothy Stone and pianist Vicki Ray demonstrated in this set is awe-inspiring. Of course, it's understandable that most listeners won't get through the three CDs this piece covers, and making it through even one disc may be a great achievement for newcomers to Feldman's music. But when time permits, set aside a quiet afternoon for this spacious, delicate, and hauntingly meditative piece and give it the full respect it deserves by playing it from start to finish. Highly recommended.