FELDMAN Verses

Record and Artist Details

Genre:

Chamber

Label: Another Timbre

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 72

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: AT177

AT177. FELDMAN Verses

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Duo for Piano and Percussion Barbara Monk Feldman, Composer
George Barton, Percussion
Siwan Rhys, Piano
Verses for Vibraphone Barbara Monk Feldman, Composer
George Barton, Percussion
The I and Thou Barbara Monk Feldman, Composer
Siwan Rhys, Piano
The Northern Shore Barbara Monk Feldman, Composer
George Barton, Percussion
Mira Benjamin, Violin
Siwan Rhys, Piano
Clear Edge Barbara Monk Feldman, Composer
Siwan Rhys, Piano

In recent years, Another Timbre has established itself as a vital new-music label. Its releases tend towards quiet, slow music in the post-Cage lineage, often with neo-tonal elements. If at times, given the restricted range, that focus can feel as limited as, say, post-spectralism, there are always surprises and adventurous works. Certainly, given we’re in something of a lull period in new music, such an adventurous attitude is needed.

Barbara Monk Feldman is little represented on disc, so this is a very welcome release. On cursory listening, Monk Feldman’s music is a satellite of the music of her deceased husband (Morton); the stylistic inheritance is unmistakable. But once you get past this, Monk Feldman’s distinctive qualities can be appreciated.

The half-hour-long trio The Northern Shore, for violin, piano and resonant percussion, evokes that natural image through an extremely limited palette and careful use of registral contrast. This is contemplative music. Very little happens other than drawn-out violin notes, piano chords left to resonate and slowly decay, an occasional swelling marimba trill. At times it feels like music denuded absolutely of tangible features: we are listening to what’s left over when habitual babble is utterly wiped away. And what is left over? Deep emotional states: not so much the titular waterscape itself as how you feel before the rippling tidal surface and the wind on your face.

Duo for piano and percussion opens the album in the same vein: slow tempo, quiet dynamic, sparse texture, long resonant decays. Monk Feldman’s large-scale harmonic trajectories are fascinating here; the music always orbits and draws away from tonal centres, a relatively orthodox chord being followed by a dissonance whose tension resembles more a timbre than a harmony, which in turn pivots into some new source of stability. The I and Thou for solo piano, with the reverb pedal depressed throughout, alternates fast broken-chord figures with slow single notes and dyads like flecks of paint on a white canvas. Just when you feel lulled into a definite tonal area, Monk Feldman introduces a chromatic element, keeping your ear awake.

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