Lebrecht Weekly – Morton Feldman: For Bunita Marcus (Hyperion)

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Morton Feldman: For Bunita Marcus, Marc-André Hamelin

Morton Feldman: For Bunita Marcus, Marc-André Hamelin

The US composer Bunita Marcus worked for seven years with Morton Feldman and subsequently accused him, after his death, of sexual abuse. Feldman wrote this piece as an act of homage to Marcus. It begins with what appears to be a visit by an extremely unhurried piano tuner and proceeds by its own logic into a sound world where time and motion lose all meaning. It lasts for 72 minutes and 38 seconds and unless it has succeeded in transcending such mundane measurements the experience will probably feel like eternity.

The pianist Marc-André Hamelin reports that “the first time I sat down at the piano to read Feldman’s piece I initially experienced a beautiful sense of liberation.” For a professional concert pianist, playing Feldman must feel like a shark fisherman’s holiday in a goldfish bowl. Whether it works the same spell on listeners as it does on Hamelin will depend on subjective factors. For me, it felt like yoga with a weird new teacher. Maybe I’ll get it at the next lesson. Must try harder.

—Norman Lebrecht

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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review.

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