Feldman: The Straits of Magellan; Two Pieces for Six Instruments; Projections; Durations

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COMPOSERS: Feldman
LABELS: Mode
WORKS: The Straits of Magellan; Two Pieces for Six Instruments; Projections; Durations
PERFORMER: Turfan Ensemble/Philipp Vandré, Thaddeus Watson
CATALOGUE NO: 103
This disc of Feldman’s early music includes his first graphic scores, Projections 1-5 (1950-51), together with some of his other experiments in notated indeterminacy. In the Projections set, Feldman employs symbols to indicate range of register (high, middle, low) while leaving specific pitch choices open to the performers. In Durations 1-5 (1960), he uses staff notation and specifies pitch but allows the performers to proceed at their own, individually-chosen paces within a general tempo designation (slow, very slow, etc). Feldman saw such uses of indeterminacy as a means to escape ‘historical cliché’ and ‘compositional rhetoric’. Certainly one result is a shift of musical focus to concerns such as timbre, dynamic, attack – and, in his late works, scale. The Turfan Ensemble’s second disc in Mode’s ongoing Feldman Edition also features The Straits of Magellan, a 1961 graphic score, and the first recording of 1956’s Two Pieces for Six Instruments (both very brief). Performances are sensitive, particularly with regard to Feldman’s insistence on soft dynamics and minimal attack, though the sound can feel claustrophobic at times. These Durations are also markedly quicker than those from the Barton Workshop (Etcetera), whose choices of tempo I generally find much more compelling. Graham Lock

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