Thursday, April 11, 2019

Companion Piece (for Morton Feldman) by Chester Biscardi



It has been said that composer Morton Feldman's music reflects the American obsession with emptiness and that a lonely, haunting tone runs through most of his music.  He loved the decay of sound.  When asked about his composition style,  Feldman once replied, "I don't push the sounds around."

In Companion Piece, Chester Biscardi pays homage to Feldman and his work, specifically Feldman's Extensions 3.  In this solo, you're introduced to the sound world of Feldman through the inimitable lens of Biscardi's music--a piece that enhances the inspiration but isn't overshadowed by it.

Biscardi, who knew Feldman personally, wrote this about the composer:  "I first met Morton Feldman in Buffalo in 1979.  His apartment was neat, sparse: a Steinway, a work table, a Rauschenberg on one wall, the now-famous Brown/Feldman cover from TIME Records on another, and many ancient Oriental, Turkish and Iroquois carpets.  He talked about his music and compositional techniques, which had as lasting an impact on me as did his intense passion for those carpets.  He encouraged me to get close to the floor and look at their textures, reliefs, orchestrations, what he called 'symmetry even through imperfection,' and explained how he was translating these impressions into the musical notes of the string quartet which he was writing."

Chester first introduced me to Companion Piece through a lecture recital he gave at Sarah Lawrence College, titled Morton Feldman & Chester Biscardi:  Music and Image (available on YouTube).  It hooked me immediately and I started learning it as soon as my piano was delivered to my home after my move to Wisconsin.  All my practicing of Companion Piece has been accompanied by the sound of the Fox River, which flows just outside my living room window, and the many birds that make that river their home.  In this recording you can hear some of the birds who chose to sing along to Biscardi's evocative notes. While learning the piece, I looked for 'symmetry even through imperfection' and listened deeply to the decay of sound.  In the notes I found patterns of unfamiliarity leading to moments of recognition, movement and stillness, warmth and detached coolness--in other words, a sound tour of the tapestry of real, beautiful, sometimes messy life.

This music is published by C.F. Peters Corporation.  To learn more about the piece and Chester Biscardi, visit his website, https://chesterbiscardi.com.




No comments: