- For Philip Guston, for flute, piano & percussion
Morton Feldman composed his marathon chamber work, "For Philip Guston" (1984), as a tribute to the abstract expressionist painter and personal friend of the composer, who died in 1980. This profoundly meditative work, which runs over four hours and fills four discs in this 2008 Wergo release, is among the longest of Feldman's late compositions, and is one of the purest in content and expression. The musicians on this recording -- flutist Julia Breuer, percussionist Matthias Engler, and pianist Elmar Schrammel -- play a varied assortment of instruments that nonetheless provides a fairly homogenous and shimmering palette: the piccolo, flute, and alto flute are complemented by glockenspiel, vibraphone, tubular bells, and marimba, with the pianist doubling on celesta. This variety is revealed very subtly and gradually, for Feldman's groupings of pitches and evolving harmonic rhythms are only slowly spun out, and the narrow range of movement and vast durations of sections make the music seem almost static in effect. The performers on this recording deserve praise for their technical control, expressive consistency, and physical endurance, for at no time does this placid music seem strained or rushed due to impatience or discomfort. Of course, listeners may not be able to take on the whole work in one sitting, and in the privacy of their homes they may listen for as little or as long as they like. But do listen, for this is some of Feldman's most beautiful and moving music, and the presentation here is simply one of the finest.