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Kronos: 25/Discs 3 & 4

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Title : Kronos: 25/Discs 3 & 4
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Kronos: 25/Discs 3 & 4

Disc three is devoted to one long (80 minutes) piece by Morton Feldman. A good friend of mine, Anthony Genge, did a doctorate in composition with him at SUNY Stony Brook. Feldman wrote a lot of very long pieces in his later years and the Salzburg Festival is doing a mini-festival of his music next summer. Listening to Piano and String Quartet from 1985 is a strange experience. The piece is simplicity itself, with slow arpeggios on the piano answered by quiet sustained chords from the string quartet. The music slowly changes like the movement of clouds in the sky, or the slow advance of the tide on a lonely beach. As the music goes on, the piano and quartet change roles, occasional pizzicati appear, but the simplicity remains. One realizes that this music has a healing quality. It is as if a hundred hours of bad, crashing, awkward and unpleasant music was slowly washed away by the honest simplicity of these chords.

This is a performance by Víkingur Ólafsson (piano), Sigrún Edvaldsdóttir (violin), Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir (cello), Una Sveinbjarnardóttir (violin) and Thórunn Ósk Marinósdóttir (cello) from a festival in Iceland in 2013:

Disc four has String Quartets 2, 3, 4, and 5 by Philip Glass. They are so terribly busy after listening to the Feldman. At this point Glass' music is hardly surprising. He somehow manages to find more possibilities within the fairly narrow range of rising minor thirds, lots of eighth notes and diatonic scales. Mirabile visu, Glass has managed to construct a new tonality that offers a stable, repeatable platform for any number of string quartets, symphonies (is he up to ten by now, or eleven?), concertos, operas and so on. He is the Vivaldi of the late 20th century avant-garde.

For some reason Blogger won't embed the Kronos recording, so here is the Catalyst Quartet with the Closing of the Mishima quartet, No. 3:

As I recall, we had the Catalyst Quartet down here for a winter series chamber concert a few years ago and they may have even played this piece.

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