At the 2006 Huddersfield contemporary music festival, pianist John Tilbury and the members of the Smith Quartet gave a remarkable series of 10 recitals that included all of Morton Feldman's works for piano and strings. A disc of Feldman's For John Cage, and Piano and String Quartet, taken from those concerts, appeared two years ago, and this second instalment pairs the cello-and-piano Patterns in a Chromatic Field of 1981, with Feldman's last completed work, the 1987 Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello. The two recordings are strikingly different: the surface of Patterns in a Chromatic Field is much less smoothly contoured than usual for late Feldman, the gestures more irregular, the dissonances more astringent, but like Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, in which the smallest changes of emphasis or pitch become seismic events, it demands enormous concentration on the part of the performers over such timespans. The performance of Patterns by Deidre Cooper and Tilbury is wonderfully dedicated, while Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello seems just as compelling on disc as it was live in Huddersfield.
Andrew Clements — 18th May 2012