Morton Feldman

Something Wild: Music for Film

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While it might not come as a complete surprise that Morton Feldman composed some music for cinema, it may well shock fans of his work to realize how far he was willing to adapt to the needs of the film. This disc, beautifully performed by the Ensemble Recherche, contains seven soundtracks dating from 1950 to 1981. The two written as accompaniment for documentaries on the painters Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, from 1950 and 1963, respectively, fall very much in line with Feldman's other output from those periods. The former is static and pointillistic, while the latter is a gorgeous example of notes hung in space that clearly point toward his later masterworks for small groups of instruments. But the disc starts off with a short piece written for the 1960 film, Something Wild in the City, by Jack Garfein (though it was never used). Scored for horn, celesta, and string quartet, its eerie lullaby nature foreshadows the sort of warped children's song used in 1980s horror films, as well as some of John Zorn's '90s soundtrack work. Even wilder, the music for Samoa and The Sin of Jesus is replete with brass fanfares, crescendi, drastic fluctuations of dynamics, and all manner of devices that one rarely associates with this composer. Better still, they're lots of fun. "Untitled Film Music," from 1960, even utilizes a decidedly jazzy double bass. Despite his reputation for extreme aestheticism, it's obvious that Feldman was, at least on occasion, willing to bend to more populist requirements. A singular entry in his oeuvre, this disc is required listening for anyone wanting a complete picture of this great composer. Peter Niklas Wilson provides some excellent and informative liner notes.

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