Review: Morton Feldman – For Bunita Marcus

Morton Feldman - For Bunita MarcusIs Lenio Liatsou playing the piano, or tilting it back and forth until notes tumble out? The piano pitches come one at a time in a methodical drip, overlapping eachother through dimming trails of sustain. Each note bounces off the last at a precise and beautiful angle, timed so that the music advances and stalls with a very deliberate sort of limping syncopation; Feldman meddles with my idea of asserted musical direction and compositional symmetry, casting shapes that, in spite of their angular turns and anxious silences, somehow feel fateful and classically beautiful. It’s a bit like looking at the constellational formations formed by stars – even as the lines deviate at weird angles, there is an endurance and an exactitude to the placement of each glimmering dot.

In lesser hands the music would move in a series of jerks, pushing through the resistance of stiffened limbs to edge ever further forward. Yet the elegance of For Bunita Marcus is irrefutable. It circumvents its own body weight so that the momentum remains replenished and constant, counter-balancing each of the lower notes with occasional strange, alluring pings in the higher registers. The composition avoids the more declarative anchorage of the very low keys – movements are instigated by swivels of the lower torso rather than by foot placement, retaining a smooth and rotational motion that could easily continue far, far beyond its own 80-minutes. It’s a beautiful and somewhat ethereal domino cascade, reconfiguring gravity and causality to suit its own unique method of advancement.