Feldman: Piano; Palais de Mari

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Feldman
LABELS: L’empreinte digitale
WORKS: Piano; Palais de Mari
PERFORMER: Ronnie Lynn Patterson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ED 13137
Feldman’s solo piano works represent an important part of his oeuvre, particularly late epics like Triadic Memories (1981) and For Bunito Marcus (1985). Marcus, a former student of Feldman’s, commissioned Palais de Mari (1986), his last work for solo piano, and a masterpiece. She requested he make it just ten minutes long, knowing it would be twice that. In fact, performances tend to last 25-30 minutes, and Ronnie Lynn Patterson stretches it to 40. It’s a lovely piece, Feldman’s gentle, mesmerising lyricism stripped bare, a delicate trickling of notes through the silence. Feldman astutely described his music as being ‘inside silence’; on Patterson’s CD you wonder at times if it’s got lost in there (the silences more Cageian than Feldmanesque). I’m starting to reattune and enjoy – but am not yet entirely convinced.

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Patterson’s similarly attenuated version of Piano (1977) is less persuasive, the impact of its rare forte eruptions muted. Markus Hinterhäuser’s Palais and Piano are more ‘conventional’ performances yet totally engaging, though Aki Takahashi’s Mode recording remains my benchmark. But Hinterhäuser’s live Piano and Orchestra lacks sharpness; this 1975 work is better performed (and contextualised) on a mid-price CPO double which features three other Feldman works for solo instrument and orchestra. Graham Lock