Morton Feldman

For Bunita Marcus, for solo piano

    Description by Chris Morrison

    In a 1986 program note, Morton Feldman thanked Bunita Marcus "for the experience of hearing an untrammeled poetry." Pianist, composer, and teacher Marcus studied with Feldman at the State University of New York at Buffalo. They subsequently became close friends, and Feldman wrote one of his last works, the piano piece Palais de Mari (1986), for her. She also became the object of one of Feldman's many compositions written "for" his friends and mentors.

    In the 1970s Feldman started writing longer compositions, some running four or even five hours. For Bunita Marcus, a solo piano piece of about an hour and a quarter duration, is actually one of the shorter of these works that the composer described as "evolving things." In these works Feldman employed longer gestures (by his standards, that is, stretching over several notes and as many as two bars) and significantly more repetition (both on a small and large scale) than had been his norm. This is the case with For Bunita Marcus, which in these and other respects remains true to what has been dubbed Feldman's "late" style.

    The music, slow and spacious throughout, is consistently quiet. No regular sense of pulse or meter ever emerges. The tonality seems to be free, but the number of repeated motives and notes gives at least some passages something of a tonal feeling. The piano's sustain pedal is depressed for almost the entirety of the work, causing the notes and gestures to blend into one another. Motives of three, four, or even six notes seem to coalesce, proliferating in a series of freely varied repetitions. Sometimes the pace of the notes temporarily picks up, giving the music a delicate swirling motion. But much of the time there is next to no activity, just a few notes, their lingering resonance, and much surrounding space. This is certainly true of the work's final 8 or 10 minutes, where the music becomes almost static. In the last few seconds, an ascending series of notes floats gently into space.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Hyperion CDA 68048
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2009 MDG 6131522
    2008 Oehms Classics 594
    2007 Sub Rosa SR 246
    2000 London Hall / LondonHALL 13
    1999 Col Legno 31886
    1994 Hat Art / Hat Hut Records 6076