A daunting test of the performers' concentration, control, and endurance, Morton Feldman's Patterns in a Chromatic Field for cello and piano is one of the most intricate chamber works of his late period. Composed in 1981, the year Feldman wrote the vast Triadic Memories for solo piano, Patterns in a Chromatic Field shares that work's expansiveness and some of its subdued coloration, but goes beyond it in terms of rhythmic activity and variety of combinations. Feldman's small, interlocking gestures -- inspired by designs in Asian carpets -- are spun out through a convoluted process of repetition, layering, and alternation with contrasting sonorities and shapes, and these juxtaposed figures cycle over 80 minutes to mesmerizing effect. This 2004 release features cellist Charles Curtis and pianist Aleck Karis, who follow the score as precisely as possible (in light of Feldman's puzzling microtonal notation), and they sustain the work's air of mystery with expectant, hushed playing. Instead of conventional liner notes, the booklet provides insightful quotations from Feldman on his work and the sources of his inspiration, a valuable aid because his explanations of his concepts are pertinent and revealing. Tzadik's sound is fine, but a little close to the musicians, so this CD should be played at a moderate volume for best enjoyment.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson