Holiday Shop


WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

John Cage: Music For Keyboard; Morton Feldman: Early Years


Release Date: 06/05/2007 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80664   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  John CageMorton Feldman
Performer:  Jeanne KirsteinDavid TudorEdwin HymovitzMorton Feldman,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 22 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $41.98
CD:  $35.99
In Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews



CAGE 2 Pieces. 1 Metamorphosis. 2 Bacchanale. 3 The Perilous Night. 4 Tossed As It Is Untroubled. 5 A Valentine Out of Season. 6 Root of an Unfocus. 7 2 Pieces For Piano. 8 Prelude for Read more Meditation. 9 Music for Marcel Duchamp. 10 Suite for Toy Piano. 11 Dream. 12 FELDMAN Piece for 4 Pianos. 13 Intersection 3 for Piano. 14 Extensions 4 for 3 Pianos. 15 2 Pieces for 2 Pianos. 16 Projection 4 for Violin And Piano. 17 Structures for String Quartet. 18 Extensions 1 For Violin and Piano. 19 3 Pieces For String Quartet 20 Jeanne Kirstein (pn); 1–12 David Tudor (pn); 13–17,19 Russell Sherman (pn); 13,15 Edwin Hymovitz (pn); 13,15,16 Morton Feldman (pn); 13 Matthew Raimondi, 17–20 Joseph Rabushka (vn); 18,20 Walter Trampler (va); 18,20 Seymour Barab (vc) 18,20 NEW WORLD 80664 (2 CDs: 141:34)


Although I’ve been contributing to Fanfare for 17 years, this is my first selection for the Hall of Fame. It’s not that I haven’t felt other releases or reissues were worthy of some additional acclaim, but rather that I never quite understood (or agreed with) the criteria for inclusion. Well, for what it’s worth, this reissue fulfills my criteria: historical importance (and there is a difference to my mind between historical importance and historical interest), musical and performance quality, and something extra, something unique to this particular release.


When these two programs were issued, separately, on LP—the Feldman in 1959, and the Cage in 1970—little of this music was available or known to the public. For most listeners, the Feldman was our initiation into his amazing sound world; and while Cage had an established, albeit vehemently controversial, reputation by 1970, this release was a rare glimpse of his early, pre-indeterminate, piano music. If I’m not mistaken, all of these were first recordings.


The earliest of Cage’s piano pieces here—the brief Two Pieces (1935) and the extended suite Metamorphosis (1938)—are from the period when he devised limited pitch rows (of less than 12 tones) and subjected them, melodically and rhythmically, to rigorous mathematical variations. Jeanne Kirstein plays them with a quiet seriousness and cool dispassion that sounds totally appropriate—the episodes vary from dry passages of realigned motifs to stern, propulsive counterpoint reminiscent of a Bach toccata. With the exception of the haunting and lovely Dream (1948), a Satie-like melody of sustained resonance, and the self-explanatory Suite for Toy Piano (1948), all of the remaining works are for prepared piano. Cut from similar cloth as his best-known prepared-piano work, the Sonatas and Interludes (1946–48), these smaller pieces share the use of pentatonics (and other limited scales), minimal and repetitious rhythmic applications, and percussive tonal qualities, giving them a ritualistic effect suited to their origin as music for dance. Root of an Unfocus (1944) is especially aggressive, and made me think of Duke Ellington’s “jungle period” music without being especially jazzy.


I ran across an ironic anecdote relating to this recording on the University of Buffalo Poetics Web site, posted by Kenneth Goldsmith, and written by Myron Bennett in 1995: “One of the wonderful fruits of John’s coming to Cincinnati was that he became acquainted with Jeanne Kirstein, who was a Pianist In Residence at the Conservatory (part of U. C.) (and wife of Jack Kirstein, then cellist with the LaSalle Quartet). John fell in love with how Jeanne played his pieces, and chose her to record for Columbia’s The Early Piano Music of John Cage . During the time of recording in New York, on one of her returns to Cincinnati, Jeanne told me that one day, as they were listening to a playback, John said to her in a somewhat wistful tone, ‘This makes me realize that I could have been a composer.’”


Though unusual in design and expression, and unlike the directions Cage was to soon explore, these piano pieces are all fully notated. The Feldman works here represent several of the varied compositional approaches he used during the 1950s—conventionally notated scores, scores notated without bar lines or phrasing indications, and graph scores which required the performer(s) to determine—variously—pitch, duration, or phrasing. It should not come as a surprise, however, that regardless of method of notation and degree of interpretation, the music is recognizable as that of Morton Feldman, and Feldman alone. The musical environments he created are inevitably sparse, delicate, and exquisitely proportioned—yet there are dramatic differences from piece to piece. The abrupt yet charmingly phased notes in the Piece for Four Pianos (1957)—where overlapping and intertwined events are offered by the individual pianists at their own pace—suggest spontaneity and control simultaneously, as the sounds hover in space, implying motion, but not momentum; contrastingly, the rigidly notated Extensions 4 for Three Pianos (1952–53) is a much more animated conversation between the participants, sounding a little like Webern with a jazzy lilt.


The works for string quartet, in addition to revealing a subtle structural debt to Stravinsky in his constructive realignment of modular units, evoke (as poet Frank O’Hara cited in his liner notes to the Feldman album’s original release) a sense of the “metaphysical place” that the composed shared with other artists, primarily the adventurous painters and visual artists of the postwar period. The rocking motifs of Structures for String Quartet (1951) give the music a kinetic feel, as if the sounds formed an object that pulsates and rotates in space. The Three Pieces for String Quartet (1954–56) offers a greater sense of abstraction—at times static and luminescent, like a canvas by Mark Rothko, other times prickly and vibrant, akin to the brushstrokes in a Philip Guston painting. Alternating between pizzicato, arco, and harmonics, with the strings muted and using no vibrato, the sounds cohere into a tensile yet fragile fabric seemingly woven of steel wool.


Though so radically new at the time—and still outside of the musical mainstream today, this music sounds convincing because of the commitment of the performers, especially the string quartet (Matthew Raimondi, Joseph Rabushka, Walter Trampler, and Seymour Barab), and pianist David Tudor, the fifth member of the so-called New York School (the others were, of course, composers Cage, Feldman, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown). Amazingly, despite their classic and irreplaceable status, these recordings have not been issued on CD previously. Though pianist/composer “Blue” Gene Tyranny supplies helpful details in his new program notes, the original texts by Richard Kostelanetz and Frank O’Hara, respectively, deserve to have been reprinted. Nevertheless, this is an essential release, returned to us from a too-distant past by New World. May we next have the “complete” Carl Ruggles recordings (also originally on Columbia, and never on CD)?


FANFARE: Art Lange
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Metamorphosis for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 16 Minutes 9 Secs. 
2.
Bacchanale by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 9 Minutes 16 Secs. 
3.
The Perilous Night for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 13 Minutes 44 Secs. 
4.
A Valentine Out of Season for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 3 Minutes 52 Secs. 
5.
Root of an Unfocus for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 4 Minutes 13 Secs. 
6.
Prelude for Meditation for Prepared Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
7.
Music for Marcel Duchamp by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 5 Minutes 50 Secs. 
8.
Suite for Toy Piano by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Toy Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 7 Minutes 38 Secs. 
9.
Dream by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 9 Minutes 9 Secs. 
10.
Piece for 4 Pianos by Morton Feldman
Performer:  David Tudor (Piano), Edwin Hymovitz (Piano), Morton Feldman (Piano),
Russell Sherman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 7 Minutes 16 Secs. 
11.
Intersection III by Morton Feldman
Performer:  David Tudor (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
12.
Pieces (2) for 2 Pianos by Morton Feldman
Performer:  David Tudor (Piano), Edwin Hymovitz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
13.
Structures by Morton Feldman
Performer:  Joseph Rabushka (Violin), Matthew Raimondi (Violin), Walter Trampler (Viola),
Seymour Barab (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 5 Minutes 6 Secs. 
14.
Pieces (3) for String Quartet by Morton Feldman
Performer:  Joseph Rabushka (Violin), Matthew Raimondi (Violin), Walter Trampler (Viola),
Seymour Barab (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 14 Minutes 27 Secs. 
15.
Pieces (2) for Piano [ca 1935, rev 1974] by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935/1974; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
16.
Tossed as it is Untroubled for Prepared Piano "Meditation" by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 2 Minutes 28 Secs. 
17.
Pieces (2) for Piano [1946] by John Cage
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 12 Minutes 15 Secs. 
18.
Extensions no 4 by Morton Feldman
Performer:  Jeanne Kirstein (Prepared Piano), Russell Sherman (Piano), Edwin Hymovitz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 6 Minutes 4 Secs. 
19.
Extensions no 1 by Morton Feldman
Performer:  David Tudor (Piano), Matthew Raimondi (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 5 Minutes 49 Secs. 
20.
Projection no 4 for Violin and Piano by Morton Feldman
Performer:  Matthew Raimondi (Violin), David Tudor (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  New York City, NY 
Length: 5 Minutes 0 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In