String Quartet No.1; Structures; Three Pieces for String Quartet
Morton Feldman

String Quartet No.1; Structures; Three Pieces for String Quartet

Morton Feldman

Label: Mode Records
Format: Merchandising Others
Barcode: 0764593026921
Catalog number: MODE 269
Releasedate: 07-04-17
2-CDs + bonus DVD packaged in deluxe slipcase. The DVD presents the music in 24-bit stereo and surround-sound options. The FLUX Quartet’s performance of String Quartet No.1 is almost 90 minutes long. While it must be split over two CDs, the DVD presents the performance uninterrupted (note: no video content).

The FLUX Quartet follow their acclaimed, best selling recording of Feldman’s monumental 6-hour String Quartet No. 2 (mode 112, 5-CDs or 1-DVD) with this release, thus completing their cycle of Feldman’s string quartets. 

The FLUX Quartet are the first ensemble to record all of Feldman’s string quartets.

String Quartet No. 1 is one of Feldman’s earliest long-scale pieces. Unlike other recordings of String Quartet No.1, the FLUX recording respects Feldman’s tempo and all of the repeats, making it the longest recording of the piece.

The set also contains Feldman’s two quartets from the 1950s: Three Pieces and Structures.

Each of these string quartets presents us with a distinctive world. A very fine sensibility is behind these worlds, Feldman’s ears and imagination are attuned to the incredible detail of tiny complexities of sound.  He gives attention to things one might otherwise overlook. No sound is too ordinary, too small, or too plain – in fact the small, ordinary, plain sounds are given a certain radiance, a renewed and rich inner life.

Structures (1951) presents us with a fragile and extremely delicate texture, almost transparent at times, like a finely woven gauze.  It has moments of re-iteration, with slightly varied repetitions, like undulations, like breathing.

The Three Pieces (1954-1956) form a triptych of sound worlds that have a similarity of tone, color, and density; they often feature sustained tones overlaid with plucked tones, creating a weave or counterpoint of longer notes colored by shorter ones.

String Quartet (1979)  is a work of far-reaching scope, even grandeur. It is long enough to get lost in, and yet it has many recurrences or near-recurrences that offer moments of familiarity within this strange and beautiful music. The piece ranges through many different territories: the chorale-like succession of soft chords followed by the quietest of single notes; dense pizzicato thickets and lonely pizzicato tones; fierce loud moments (rare for Feldman) that seem to obliterate all that came before; winding melodic figures, and sad oscillations that breathe, hover and float; moments of quickness – almost breathlessness – giving the work sudden eruptions of urgency; an exquisitely long orchestration of one note, like the spinning of multiple strands into a single thread. 

Liner notes by Linda Catlin Smith.

The FLUX Quartet, “one of the most fearless and important new-music ensembles around” (Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle) “who has brought a new renaissance to quartet music” (Kyle Gann, The Village Voice), has performed to rave reviews in venues from Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and Kennedy Center, to influential art institutions such as EMPAC, The Kitchen, and the Walker Art Center (with jazz icon Ornette Coleman), to international music festivals in Australia, Europe, and the Americas. It has also appeared on numerous experimental series, including Bowerbird, Roulette, and the Music Gallery.  FLUX’s radio credits include NPR’s All Things Considered, WNYC’s New Sounds and Soundcheck, and WFMU’s Stochastic Hit Parade.  Widely praised for the premiere recording of Morton Feldman's monumental String Quartet No.2—described as a “disorienting, transfixing experience that repeatedly approached and touched the sublime” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker)—FLUX follows that with this companion recording, which completes the full catalogue of Feldman’s works for string quartet.

Strongly influenced by the irreverent spirit and “anything-goes” philosophy of the fluxus art movement, violinist Tom Chiu founded FLUX in the late 90’s. The quartet has since cultivated an uncompromising repertoire that follows neither fashions nor trends, but rather combines yesterday’s seminal iconoclasts with tomorrow’s new voices. Alongside late 20th-century masters like Cage, Feldman, Ligeti, Nancarrow, Scelsi, and Xenakis, FLUX has premiered more than 100 works by many of today’s foremost innovators, including Michael Byron, Julio Estrada, David First, Oliver Lake, Wadada Leo Smith, Alvin Lucier, Marc Neikrug, Matthew Welch, and many more.  As part of its mission to support future musical pioneers, FLUX actively commissions, and has been awarded grants from the American Composers Forum, USArtists International, Aaron Copland Fund, and the Meet-The-Composer Foundation.  FLUX also discovers emerging composers from its many residencies and workshops at colleges, including Wesleyan, Dartmouth, Williams, Princeton, Rice, and the College of William and Mary.