Feldman: Atlantis; String Quartet & Orchestra; Oboe & Orchestra

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COMPOSERS: Feldman
LABELS: Hat Hut Hat
WORKS: Atlantis; String Quartet & Orchestra; Oboe & Orchestra
PERFORMER: Han de Vries (oboe); Pellegrini Quartet, Frankfurt RSO/Lucas Vis
CATALOGUE NO: ART 116
The small Swiss label Hat Hut has long been among the foremost champions of Morton Feldman’s music. Nearly a dozen Feldman titles have appeared on the label over the last decade, including acclaimed premiere recordings of late chamber epics like the three-hour For Christian Wolff and the four-hour For Philip Guston. The works on this CD are more modest in scale and come from earlier periods in Feldman’s career. Atlantis (1959), for chamber orchestra, uses the graphic notation with which Feldman experimented in the Fifties and Sixties, part of what he called his desire ‘to project sounds into time, free from a compositional rhetoric’. In Atlantis, the result is a rivulet of tiny delights, trickles and flurries of notes that unfurl into scampering, stop-start phrases.

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By the time of String Quartet & Orchestra (1973) and Oboe & Orchestra (1976), Feldman had abandoned graphic notation but not his wish to create a music without ‘compositional rhetoric’. So there is no recourse to concerto form; the relationship between soloist(s) and orchestra is shaped rather by intuition – long hushed tones, anxious silences, hints of patterns. A meticulous procession of austere, unpredictable beauty. These precise, sensitive performances, superbly recorded, make compelling listening. Graham Lock