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<<  -- 3 --  Rex Harley    TOTALLY ACCESSIBLE


So with Two Pieces for Three Pianos. The time-scale is considerable: over half an hour for the two pieces combined. Clusters of sound are held in an overall shape not by harmonic progression, but by the extended silences out of which they emerge and by which they are swallowed. There is no obvious sense of progression and thus, for the listener, no anticipation. Every time you hear this music you live it moment by moment. Nothing sounds like a beginning or an end. In fact, the first notes of the second piece sound exactly as if they are already resonating before we hear them; and when we reach what is actually the last note we find ourselves still listening, uncertain if the silence lies beyond the piece or is still contained within it. Above all, we are invited to reconsider silence itself. It is a similar pre-occupation to that of John Cage, but with a markedly different effect to, say, 4' 33". Here there is less actual silence, more organised noise. It is the symbiosis between the two which holds us spellbound, as with the symbiosis between space and volume in Calder's sculpture [listen -- track 9, 9:59-11:56].

As for the actual sounds, they are experienced more as if one were inside a collective three-keyboard instrument, than a discrete listener positioned outside the process. The sonorities; the contrasts between the highest and the deepest notes; the resonances: all combine to create an effect that is both mesmerising and thrilling. The only way to listen is with total concentration and yet, paradoxically, there is nothing difficult about it. You concentrate because that's what the music makes you do. The music and, of course, the silence.

If I were in a position to give awards, this performance would get one. I'm not, but I hope that others will be intrigued enough to buy this CD and absorb themselves, or become absorbed by this outstanding release. And this despite the fact that the cover is the flimsiest ever seen, and the notes have been hi-jacked by a graphic designer who loves colour and patterns but hates the written word; they are the hardest I have yet had to decipher. No matter. The music is totally accessible. Throw away any preconceptions and listen for yourself.

Copyright © 28 February 2004 Rex Harley, Cardiff UK


Morton Feldman - early and unknown piano works

Stereo NEW RELEASE 54'7" 2003 OgreOgress Productions

Debora Petrina, piano

Morton Feldman (1926-1987): First Piano Sonata; Preludio; Self portrait; Three dances; For Cynthia; Two pieces for three pianos


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