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Album Review

Michael Tilson Thomas leads the New World Symphony Orchestra in performances of three large-scale pieces by Feldman. Piano and Orchestra from 1972 hints at the depth and subtlety he would master in later years, played in the extreme quiet range (with the exception of a few startling blasts toward the end) and existing in a fairly static though fascinating space. Cello and Orchestra is similarly quiet, though taking somewhat more of an overt concerto form with the cello up front playing material more melodic in nature. Both of these pieces have a slightly dry quality, lacking the expansiveness of Feldman's masterworks from the last decade of his life. Coptic Light is one such masterpiece. Like the equally powerful For Samuel Beckett, at the opening of the piece the listener feels as though he's walked into some living, breathing entity which had been active before his presence and would remain so after he's gone. The orchestra ripples and pulsates like a wind-blown field, the music sounding always the same but infinitely different. Arguably Feldman's finest work for large ensemble, the performance of Coptic Light alone makes this an indispensable purchase for any fan.

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Morton Feldman: Coptic Light - EP, Robert Cohen
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