Morton Feldman: Trio (1980)

Albert Breier / Kristina Radcke / Adelheid Schloemann

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Morton Feldman: Trio (1980) Review

by Dan Warburton

The track listing might give the impression that Morton Feldman specifically composed his 1980 "Trio" in five separate movements, but this is misleading. It is in fact a continuous span of music, but given the limitations of the compact disc, this 88-minute performance by violinist Kristina Radcke, cellist Adelheid Schloemann, and pianist Albert Breier has to spill over onto a second CD. The other available version, on hatART by members of the Ives Ensemble, clocks in at 76 minutes and fits on one. Comparing available versions of Feldman's late compositions can reveal huge discrepancies in terms of duration, most notably in the violin and piano work "For John Cage" (the Yashushi Toyoshima and Aki Takahashi recording of the piece is nearly 32 minutes longer than Christina Fong and Paul Hersey's reading!), but from the evidence of Feldman's own tempo indications it's safe to assume that the faster version is closer to what was specified by the score. "Trio," by dint of its duration, is usually considered as "late Feldman," but its odd, sudden shifts of texture and material mark it more as a transitional work from the thorny late-'70s pieces such as "Spring of Chosroes" and "Piano," and as such it's better served in the faster, less conspicuously emotive reading of the Ives Ensemble. Which is not to say that this sensitive, careful reading by Radcke, Schloemann, and Breier is without its qualities. It all depends on how you like your Feldman.

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