Rothko Chapel

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MORTON FELDMAN / JOHN CAGE / ERIK SATIE
Rothko Chapel
Kim Kashkashian (viola) / Houston Chamber Choir, Robert Simpson, with Sarah Rothenberg (piano) & Steven Schick (percussion)

[ ECM New Series / CD ]

Release Date: Sunday 25 October 2015

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The album 'Rothko Chapel' addresses a network of musical relationships and inspirations, taking as its main focus Morton Feldman's work named for the Houston, Texas multi-faith chapel built to house Mark Rothko's site-specific paintings.

Feldman considered that his 'Rothko Chapel' lay "between categories, between time and space, between painting and music", and described the score as his "canvas". Amongst his most important influences were abstract painters, his friend Mark Rothko prominent amongst them. (Rothko, for his part, yearned to "raise painting to the level of music and poetry".) Feldman was also liberated by the freewheeling example of John Cage's work. "The main influence from Cage was a green light,'' Feldman said. ''It was permission, the freedom to do what I wanted.'' Cage, the most relentless of 20th century experimentalists, didn't acknowledge what he called an "ABC model of 'influence'" but always had a special fondness for Satie, a musical inventor of good-humoured originality with whom he could identify.

Feldman's piece was first played in the chapel in 1972. On the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Rothko Chapel in 2011, a concert was held there bringing together works of Feldman, Cage and Satie. This programme was reprised for the present CD with recordings made at other Houston locations - Rice University (Cage, Satie) and the Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater (Feldman).

Leading viola player Kim Kashkashian negotiates the subtle, glowing textures of Feldman's planes of sound, joined by Sarah Rothenberg on celeste, and supported by percussion and choir. Rothenberg, on piano, plays Satie's Gnossiennes and Cage's Inner Landscape, and the Houston Chamber Choir sings Cage's Four, Five and more, illuminating this rarely heard choral music.

"[Rothko Chapel is] a passionate, reverent piece with elegiac playing here from violist Kim Kashkashian - she paints bolder strokes than many dare in Feldman, which is refreshing. The Houston choir's singing is warm and percussionist Steven Schick creates a great sense of space and ritual." The Guardian

Tracks:

Cage:
Four2
In a Landscape
Five
ear for Ear

Feldman, M:
Rothko Chapel

Satie:
Gnossienne No. 4
Ogives No. 1
Ogives No. 2
Gnossienne No. 1
Gnossienne No. 3