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Crippled Symmetry


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Performer Notes
  • Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was and remains one of the giants of the "John Cage generation" of contemporary composers (if fact, he and Cage were friends). Feldman broke free of the serial school (Babbit, Boulez, etc.) and its adherents, and found more of an influence in the detail modern painters (such as Philip Guston, for whom he wrote and named a four-hour piece). It's this sense of detail that marks Feldman's later music: how long a flutist could breathe, how long before a note from a piano decays into nothingness.
  • In some respects, CRIPPLED SYMMETRY is "minimalist" in that the melodic fragments are brief and repeeated, yet it sounds nothing like Philip Glass or Steve Reich. Feldman's approach recalls the spare, spacious sound of Anton Webern and the piano music of Erik Satie, with the subtle repetition forming symmetry an almost imperceptible asymmetry. This 87-minute piece, for a trio of flute, piano and percussion, is gentle though not lulling or ambient (though it may certainly achieve that effect)--there is an elemental sense of tension to it. It's as if Feldman were trying to capture the sight AND sound of a snowflake melting in slow motion. CRIPPLED SYMMETRY is powerful and demanding music, but is so quiet and unassuming you may not notice.
Professional Reviews
International Record Review (4/00, p.52) - "...Feldman deals with sound, slowing the listener's attention-span until the merest gnat's crotchet of variation registers as a...seismic shift. His figures oscillate like the visual fields created by the giant canvases of Rothko or Newman..."

Billboard (11/27/99) - Recommended
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