Boomkat Product Review:
Apartment House's latest set is a hypnotic rendition of Morton Feldman's towering late-period masterpiece, originally recorded in 1991 by Kronos Quartet and Aki Takahashi and here performed by Mark Knoop (piano), Mira Benjamin & Gordon Mackay (violins), Bridget Carey (viola) and Anton Lukoszevieze (cello).
When Morton Feldman wrote "Piano and String Quartet" in 1985, only two years before he died of pancreatic cancer, he had Kronos Quartet and Aki Takahashi in mind, but the piece has been recorded many times since it was released in 1993, and has been endlessly influential, like much of Feldman's work.
On this rendition, the dynamic range is tempered with piano and strings fluttering delicately like a whisper over a silence that feels omnipresent. When notes appear from the void, they do so with purpose, hanging like ghosts before slipping away into the aether.
Anton Lukoszevieze, leader of Apartment House, explains why he chose to record the piece:
"Piano and String Quartet, one of Feldman’s final works, is a seemingly simple work and yet it isn’t. As Philip Guston, a great friend of Feldman, wrote ‘Frustration is one of the great things in art; satisfaction is nothing.’ The length of the work (nearly 80 minutes) and the erasure of musical memory (What did we just hear?) is in fact its identity. Feldman makes simple statements, a piano arpeggio or a sustained string chord, holds these things and examines them over time. Gradually, as the sun’s light moves across a still life through the day, like a drawn out Morandi painting, the work evolves and indeed dissolves in some sense.
Using different transformative processes, Feldman illuminates his basic material and achieves the miraculous, an extended work of great beauty and enigmatic wonder. There are ghosts there, tinctures of late Schubert, Brahms and even Janaček, where beauty is a signature of passing time and an ephemeral focus on hearing and disappearing."