MORTON FELDMAN – For Samuel Beckett


This version of For Samuel Beckett was first published in 1992, then reissued in 2006. Conducted by Arturo Tamayo and performed by much-loved (by this listener, who warms to Frank Zappa’s The Yellow Shark) Ensemble Modern, it has kept flowing through my rational and physical cracks for days, each time generating the same blend of anguishing wait and conscious neglecting of an assessment of its technical minutiae. The nearly chronic ebb and flow of clustered strings and winds – accentuated by a series of insistently enigmatic piano figures – moves across numerous stages of self-searching without asking for permissions. Something that comes into view as unpromisingly cyclical discloses instead lots of understated discrepancies lying beneath the façade. If one’s mood is upbeat, this music could make them stop and regain the realism linked to the consideration of someone who suffers. If the troubled individual’s identikit matches with the listener’s, it’s very plausible that the ill-defined contours rendered by the score will cause the clouds in that person’s head to condense in dark grey hues. The work – not considering the dedication and the hackneyed comparisons with Beckett’s style – was written a few months before Feldman’s passing. In virtue of this, the out-of-character increase of rate in its pulse seems to signify the composer’s slight rush in an imprecise awareness of his imminent demise, gloomy tones and unhappy acoustic layers replacing the rhetorical accents of a precooked memorial.

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