Magazine article Gramophone

Feldman: Violin and Orchestra

Magazine article Gramophone

Feldman: Violin and Orchestra

Article excerpt


Violin and Orchestra

Carolin Widmann vn Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra / Emilio Pomarico

ECM New Series (F) 476 4929 (5T * DDD)

Feldman's testing concerto from Widmann in Frankfurt

You suspect, in the great scheme of music, orchestral musicians would rather play nearly anything else than a 50-minute piece by Morton Feldman which can--and will--cruelly expose any lapse of intonation or rhythmic approximation. They'd rather play Gruppen, because who's going to notice the occasional lucky-dip accidental; Webern because, although the Austrian 12-tone miniaturist demands comparable textural finesse to Feldman, there's a pit stop alter every few minutes. But Feldman needs each player to move with the delicacy and concentration of a chamber soloist while still contributing to the ensemble--this counter-intuitive state maintained for longer than seems decent.

I start from this admittedly niche observation because I once saw the BBC SO die as hard as a bad comedian at the Glasgow Empire playing Violin and Orchestra (1979) as they utterly failed to summon up the immersive concentration required, and a panicked, rudderless and under-prepared travesty unravelled in front of our ears. …

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