What do I listen to these days?
This more than anything.
Each night it’s the last thing I hear before falling asleep. Having left the Bose on “repeat” (usually Hildegard Kleeb [Hat Hut], sometimes John Tilbury [Extraplatte]), it’s the first thing I hear upon awakening. It seems, sometimes, as if it’s always playing—whether I’m listening or not.
Morton Feldman, “For Bunita Marcus” (1985)/Mark Knoop (piano), live, London, 2010
Almost all Feldman’s music is slow and soft. Only at first sight is this a limitation. I see it rather as a narrow door, to whose dimensions one has to adapt oneself (as in Alice in Wonderland) before one can pass through it into the state of being that is expressed in Feldman’s music. Only when one has become accustomed to the dimness of light can one begin to perceive the richness and variety of colour which is the material of the music. When one has passed through the narrow door and got accustomed to the dim light, one realises the range of his imagination and the significant differences that distinguish one piece from another . . .
Feldman sees the sounds as reverberating endlessly, never getting lost, changing their resonances as they die away, or rather do not die away, but recede from our ears, and soft because softness is compelling, because an insidious invasion of our senses is more effective than a frontal attack. Because our ears must strain to catch the music, they must become more sensitive before they perceive the world of sound in which Feldman’s music takes place.
Legend has it that after one group of players had crept their way as quietly as possible through a score of his Feldman barked, ‘It’s too fuckin’ loud, and it’s too fuckin’ fast.’
—Alex Ross, “American Sublime,” The New Yorker, 6/19/06