Patterns in a Chromatic Field,
Morton Feldman's 1981 masterpiece, may be his most complex and enigmatic score. Revealing qualities that are almost unique in his output - breathless speed, abrupt changes in texture and mood, a charged, brittle intensity - this monumental 80-minute canvas conveys a stark, hypnotic beauty.
The piece is worked out in an obsessive intricacy of detail, resembling an obscure encoded text in a forgotten language. Feldman compared the very slight microtonality in the cello writing - indicated by an esoteric system of double-sharps and flats - to the natural dyes in antique carpets: the slight variations in hue and intensity of a particular color cause the entire "chromatic field" of a carpet to shimmer.
Charles Curtis and Aleck Karis have recorded this work for John Zorn's Tzadik label (CD 8002).
Charles Curtis premiéred La Monte Young's new solo cello work, Just Charles and Cello in the Romantic Chord, at four European festivals last season. This three-hour composition in just intonation combines improvisation with pre-recorded cello drones and a light projection by Marian Zazeela. Forthcoming on Sigma Editions is a double CD of works by Alvin Lucier, including a new work written for Curtis. He is the former principal cellist of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, and has performed as soloist and chamber musician at numerous international festivals and venues. A professor at the University of California, San Diego, Curtis teaches contemporary performance practice and the interpretation of unconventionally notated scores. He is a student of Harvey Shapiro.
For over twenty years Aleck Karis has been one of the leading pianists in the New York contemporary music scene. Particularly associated with the music of Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt and Mario Davidovsky, he has championed their works all over the world. Among his numerous solo piano discs on Bridge Records are acclaimed recordings of Stravinsky, Schumann, Carter and Cage. Last year Karis performed Birtwistle's marathon solo work "Harrison's Clocks" in London and New York, Stockhausen's "Mantra" in New York, and he appeared at the Venice Biennale. A professor at the University of California, San Diego, Karis studied with William Daghlian.