"For Bunita Marcus opens with a clear call to our attention. With these first six notes, we step over the threshold and into the journey of the piece. We know that we are in this for the long haul: Morton Feldman’s late works are notorious for being marathons. He composed For Bunita Marcus in 1985, immediately after his four-hour For Philip Guston, and two years after his six-hour String Quartet (II) These earlier works make an hour-long solo piano piece seem short. Still, it is a long time to sustain a single movement, a single journey, and we inevitably have this in mind as we take the first step: so this is how it starts.
For Bunita Marcus, like all the late Feldman works, is an adventure that takes a relatively long time to play out, but which is remarkably lacking in heaviness. We may expect an epic, but we get something much subtler. Indeed, what we get is the present moment, in all its beauty, over and over again. If we surrender to the musical image that is right in front of us, a piece like For Bunita Marcus is an easy world to enter into and to explore with Feldman. We step into the silence after that first six-note motto, and we wonder: What comes next? The next hour and a quarter is spent doing nothing more than discovering what comes next—and the next thing after that, and the next after that.
For Bunita Marcus is performed here by Aki Takahashi, one of the greatest Feldman intrepreters. After Triadic Memories, Feldman composed all his piano music for Aki Takahashi. In remarks made before the U.S. premiere of Triadic Memories, he described Takahashi as “absolutely still,” “undisturbed, unperturbed, as if in a concentrated prayer.” He found that her concentration was transmitted to the audience; a performance by her was “like a séance.” Ms. Takahashi premiered the work in Middleburg, The Netherlands in 1985. Through her performance, the journey of For Bunita Marcus is rich in color, pacing and poetry.
The cover photo of Feldman, Bunita Marcus and Aki Takahashi was taken around the time of the premiere."