If music can be intricately designed but loosely woven, simultaneously rigorous and relaxed, animated and still, then Morton Feldman’s 70th birthday tribute For John Cagecertainly fits the bill. Constructed from the sparest of material, it’s an hypnotic dialogue between violin and piano spun into gossamer-delicate threads that seem suspended in halos of crepuscular light – a conversation of echoed phrases and unfinished, interrupted sentences that pivot around a shared if never quite fully articulated intimacy.

Composed in 1982 and described by the composer as “a little piece for violin and piano [that] doesn’t quite quit”, you may well find yourself wishing it hadn’t finished when this spell-binding performance by Irish violinist Darragh Morgan and Feldman authority John Tilbury on piano finally reaches its evaporating, atomised conclusion.

The duo has recorded the work once before, a live performance from the Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music in the UK in 2006, available on Matchless Recordings. At a whisper under 84 minutes, this new account, caught, congruously, in the accommodatingly intimate acoustic of London’s City University, is five minutes shorter than its...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now