Morton Feldman: String Quartet No. 1

  • for string quartet
  • Duration: 100’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st violin
    2nd violin
    viola
    violoncello
  • Composer: Morton Feldman

Work introduction

The entire String Quartet is connected to a uniform, demonstratively slow basic tempo; all the minute changes of motion come about through complex changes of meter and intricate rhythmic notation. Simple dispositions of material (such as the notes D flat – D – E flat – E at the start) are constantly ›orchestrated‹ in different ways using varyingly subtle changes of tone color (harmonic, sul ponticello, pizzicato, octave shifts and omissions). The things that appear and vanish again with the slowness of an organic process know no assertion, no argumentation and no climaxes. Seemingly mechanical procedures neutralize anything that could be interpreted as narrative. Towards the end of the piece – for the first time in his œuvre – Feldman notates repeats of bars and groups of bars. The ending stays for a long time on a single rhythmically structured sound, ambivalently poised between calm and opening. What remains? A distant echo of the disturbed course of the world. Chatter that falls silent, empty and meaningless… meaning nothing.

Martin Kapeller

Translation: Wieland Hoban

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