The Flux Quartet follow their acclaimed, best selling recording of Feldman’s monumental 6-hour String Quartet No. 2 (mode 112, 5-CDs or 1-DVD) with this release, thus completing their cycle of Feldman’s string quartets. String Quartet No. 1 is one of Feldman’s earliest long-scale pieces. Unlike other recordings of String Quartet No.1, the FLUX recording respects Feldman’s tempo and all of the repeats, making it the longest recording of the piece.
The set also contains Feldman’s two quartets from the 1950s: Three Pieces and Structures.
Each of these string quartets presents us with a distinctive world. A very fine sensibility is behind these worlds, Feldman’s ears and imagination are attuned to the incredible detail of tiny complexities of sound. He gives attention to things one might otherwise overlook. No sound is too ordinary, too small, or too plain – in fact the small, ordinary, plain sounds are given a certain radiance, a renewed and rich inner life.
Structures (1951) presents us with a fragile and extremely delicate texture, almost transparent at times, like a finely woven gauze. It has moments of re-iteration, with slightly varied repetitions, like undulations, like breathing.
The Three Pieces (1954-1956) form a triptych of sound worlds that have a similarity of tone, color, and density; they often feature sustained tones overlaid with plucked tones, creating a weave or counterpoint of longer notes colored by shorter ones.
String Quartet (1979) is a work of far-reaching scope, even grandeur. It is long enough to get lost in, and yet it has many recurrences or near-recurrences that offer moments of familiarity within this strange and beautiful music. The piece ranges through many different territories: the chorale-like succession of soft chords followed by the quietest of single notes; dense pizzicato thickets and lonely pizzicato tones; fierce loud moments (rare for Feldman) that seem to obliterate all that came before; winding melodic figures, and sad oscillations that breathe, hover and float; moments of quickness – almost breathlessness – giving the work sudden eruptions of urgency; an exquisitely long orchestration of one note, like the spinning of multiple strands into a single thread.
Liner notes by Linda Catlin Smith.
2-CDs + bonus DVD packaged in deluxe slipcase. The DVD presents the music in 24-bit stereo and surround-sound options. The FLUX Quartet’s performance of String Quartet No.1 is almost 90 minutes long. While it must be split over two CDs, the DVD presents the performance uninterrupted (note: no video content).