Written in the later years of Morton Feldman's life, Triadic Memories -- completed in 1981 -- was the longest and among the last of the composer's many piano pieces. Recording it is a major undertaking for a pianist. Over the years, Sabine Liebner, Marilyn Nonken, and others have made recordings, but one of the first versions to be released was that of Belgian pianist Jean-Luc Fafchamps in 1990 on the Sub Rosa label. However, one of Feldman's intentions for the piece was the subversion of perception, and Fafchamps subsequently discovered a "corrected" version of the score that significantly differed from the one he had recorded. Some 20 years after his first interpretation, Fafchamps duly cut a second one for the same label, incorporating the manuscript changes, but using the same engineer and even the same piano he had employed in his first go-round, in an attempt to create a kind of "ultimate" version. Upon entering into the hazy, dreamlike world of Triadic Memories, it's easy to imagine how anyone's interpretation of the piece could be swayed by Feldman's willful tweaking of time. It was the composer's intention to craft a sonic representation of the memory process at work in all its fallible glory, by deliberately repeating phrases incorrectly, and sometimes beginning a repetition before the previous one was completed, wreaking havoc on the structural flow for anyone trying to follow along in a linear fashion. As planned, the end result is a bewitching kind of disorientation that allows Feldman's minimalist piano motifs to turn endlessly in a kind of musical funhouse mirror, constantly creating alternate versions of reality as they go along. Fafchamps, who is known as much for his compositions as for his interpretive work, brings a bit of an auteur's sensibility to Triadic Memories; between that and his aforementioned history with the piece, he's got the emotional and aesthetic grounding to give it his all, which he does. For a work like this, commitment is paramount, and Fafchamps' second visit to Triadic Memories does not stint on that quality.
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AllMusic Review by James Allen