Morton Feldman · For Samuel Beckett. Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin; Roland Kluttig, cond. cpo 999 647-2 (43’17).
This quiet, static piece will offer few surprises for listeners familiar with Morton Feldman’s late works. Written in 1987, the year of Feldman’s death, it is scored for a large wind ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone – all doubled – along with a single tuba); a trio consisting of harp, piano and vibraphone; and four strings: violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The structure is deceptively simple, the higher- and lower-pitched winds alternate playing a drone-like chord while the trio plays the single notes from a tritone. Beneath it all the strings lend barely audible support to the winds.
As is typical with Feldman, the music seems repetitious, but the pattern is elusive and never settled. The listening experience consists of small epiphanies akin to the visual experience of watching the sun shimmer on gently rippling water. The music mutates but never evolves. The performance is excellent.