Aleck Karis, piano
Curt Macomber, violin
Danielle Farina, viola
Chris Finckel, cello
Pianist Aleck Karis presents a one-night only concert dedicated to late works of the iconoclastic composer Morton Feldman. As an extension of Karis’s latest album Wolpe, Feldman & Webern (Bridge Records), this performance casts the composer in a fresh light by showcasing music written by Feldman’s teacher, Stefan Wolpe, as well as Wolpe’s teacher, Anton Webern. Program opens with solo piano works including Feldman’s Piano and Palais de Mari juxtaposed with Wolpe’s Form, Form IV and Webern’s Piano Variations, culminating with Feldman’s Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello featuring special guest artists Curtis Macomber (violin), Danielle Farina (viola) and Chris Finckel (cello).
Karis argues that pairing works by these three masters reveals more than just the obvious teacher–student succession. “Feldman, Wolpe and Webern share a deep kinship. They created sound worlds, austere yet sensuous, of uncompromising originality and freshness of vision. They heard everything so acutely, informed but never inhibited by the past, with such impeccable craftsmanship, that in their music words like “dissonant” and “discordant” become irrelevant. By placing these works in conversation the contrasts can be savored, and more importantly, the deep musical bonds connecting them can clearly emerge.
Opening the program are two of Feldman’s later works: Piano (1977) and Palais de Mari (1986). Piano is an experimental work with many unique aspects, notably its morphing at times into 2-piano and 3-piano textures.
In this live concert, Karis plays these passages along with his own pre-recorded material. Palais de Mari, Feldman's last work for solo piano explores repetition and recurrence with a Webernesque economy of means
Feldman’s Piano is sandwiched between two short virtuouso works by Stefan Wolpe: Form (1959) and Form IV (1969), highlighting their musical connections. In Feldman’s words, “along with Wolpe’s [his] incredible vitality – it never seemed to subside – was a delicacy of manner which is also very much in his music – those abbreviated benign shapes of his that suddenly appear and leave off with a smile.” Fittingly, Karis also performs Variations for Piano, Op. 27 (1936) - the only important work for piano solo written by Anton Webern, Wolpe’s teacher. Hearing Palais de Mari after this Second Viennese School masterpiece enables listeners to hear how Feldman responded to Webern’s musical legacy.
The concert’s second half features Feldman’s last composition - the meditative, haunting 90-minute Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello (1987). Karis will be joined by colleagues Curtis Macomber (violin), Danielle Farina (viola) and Chris Finckel (cello).