Musica somnambulistica

Dan Albertson

[November 2015.]

[With gratitude to Izumi Miyoshi.]


Morton FELDMAN: Triadic Memories (1981). Marilyn Nonken (pf). Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, Evanston, IL, Nov. 6, 2015.

Late Feldman is an experience at any tempo. Add a concert that began at 10 PM and the atmosphere was right for music offering a glimpse of the non-mundane.

The performance, proper though it seemed to be, lacked the requisite level of intensity, as one volley of soft notes trailed another. Detachment to some extent here is appreciated; coldness is another matter. Engaging with the music beyond its superficial seduction became a problem.

As with Bruckner, late Feldman has suffered from the conflation of slowness with profundity. In some pieces, a brisker tempo, far from ruining the mystery of the music, would enable a better view of the overall work.

A scan of the audience showed many heads either down or facing the ceiling. Whether the poses were nods to majesty or an acknowledgment of longueur, I could not deduce.

This performance lasted 97:05. Nonken has recorded the work with a duration of almost 94′. She is therefore consistent. While indulgent compared to Aki Takahashi (61′) or Steffen Schleiermacher (81′), she is swift when set alongside Sabine Liebner (124′).

As a postscript, the fact that this concert was part of the opening night of a three-day festival of new music, NUNC 2, is notable. The remainder of the concerts held no appeal to me. One may interpret me to be out of line with the times, but I find amusing the fact that this bit of “new music,” from before I was born, conveys more urgency and has more music in it than the experiments of the young and oh-so-daring.


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