an enveloping quiet … sighs … ellipses … wispy nano-events … silence … silence … a slow withdrawal of personality … it-ness … silence … silence interrupted … faintly … and then
Thus, for 75 fraught implicative minutes at the Longy School Sunday night, Morton Feldman’s “Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello” (1987).
Implicative of what? Of anything? Did it matter? If they knew, Collage New Music’s Christopher Oldfather, Catherine French, Miranda Cuckson, and Joel Moerschel gave nothing away, exhibiting a wonderfully glacial poise.
Where Feldman’s music seems virtually shadowless in the sense of having any Grand Tradition behind it, Webern’s—in this case his alchemical Four Little Pieces for Violin and Piano Op. 7, Three Little Pieces for Cello and Piano Op. 11, and the Variations for Piano Op. 27—let you hear the expressive phraseology and rhythmic stresses (however pared-down) that were manifestly of the Middle Europe of its time.
Heard in retrospect—backward-facing through the Feldman—what a riot of too-much-ness was hinted at, if largely through renunciation. But it was not the kind of renunciation that could be felt as loss.