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For Philip Guston

For Philip Guston,  ()


For Philip Guston

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(). August 19, 1991 - August 21, 1991.
: Osobnyak , 12.01.2016 14:29            (1)  

August 19, 1991 - August 21, 1991.
: Osobnyak , 12.01.2016 14:37            (1)  

  . . , Romy
  This monolithic four-plus hour work, composed very late in Feldman`s career, is among his
longest; only `String Quartet No. 2` (at six hours) and `For Christian Wolf` (at over
three) are in its company. But it is this work, and in particular this performance, that
reveals Feldman`s particular obsession with discovery. However, his means are far
different than most composers, yet not unlike those of the namesake of this piece, Philip
Guston, a father of abstract expressionism, to whom Feldman had also dedicated a short
piano piece in the 1950s. Feldman`s `abstract` music, with its insistence on sparse
passages and quiet, was also one of total control. Listening back to a music he had
created in which strict adherence to a score was necessary for the players, Feldman found
himself, and what he found was known only to him. But listeners are set free to wander
these long hours wherever the eyes of the soul may take them. An earlier recording of this
piece by Eberhard Blum and company on the Hat Art label was stilted and academic; it came
off as if the composer himself was attempting some gargantuan exercise, which didn`t ring
true when placed against the body of Feldman`s work. This version, by members of the
wonderful California EAR Unit, is far more relaxed, a necessity given the score`s
restrictive architecture. Perhaps the most striking thing about this piece is that, in the
104 pages that comprise the score, no two passages bear the same time signature! It
doesn`t matter whether there is a notated silence, a cluster of short chords on the
celeste or piano, or a single note or two spaced within the same measure; each passage, by
nature of its place in stretching the notion of time itself, is given an identity so
unique that it appears as whole and disappears as fragment when the next passage begins.
Proportion is everything in this work, and the players seem to understand this implicitly.
Each note is precise in pitch and timbre; each is played without a hint of the enormous
tension in the score. At no time is the strident pursuit of the score`s demands relaxed.
In the last bars, after over four hours of music, the time signatures run 7/4, 6/4, 5/4,
9/8, 11/8, and 13/8, followed by a silent measure (which sounds perfectly welcome as an
instrument here) of 2/2, 5/4, 5/4, and 6/4, which moves directly into another silent
measure of 2/2, 13/8, 9/8, and 11/8, and the final, disappearing 2/2 (so quiet that it
almost wasn`t played). Feldman has created an `abstraction of exactitude` in this homage
to his friend, which is exactly the manner in which Guston the artist extracted everything
from himself. Silence plays its usual pivotal role here, not as ether to emerge from, but
as the platform to which all notes are held in the end. They emerge from and add
immeasurably to the previous silence, as a meditator`s breath disappears into the
universal stream of emptiness and becomes one with it. The sound here is phenomenal, clean
and clear throughout. This is the definitive performance of this work to date and, given
its length, will probably be for some time to come.

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