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Morton Feldman - Projection 1

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Published on May 7, 2011

Projection 1, for solo cello (1950)

Taco Kooistra, cello

The five Projections, dating from late 1950 and early 1951, are among Morton Feldman's earliest compositions, and his first to employ graphic, rather than conventional, notation. In composing these very spare works, Feldman was influenced by fellow composer Edgard Varèse's notion of the "projection of sound in space." What Feldman called the "stasis" of paintings by his friends Mark Rothko and Philip Guston also contributed to the sound world of the Projections.

Written for cellist Seymour Barab, Projection 1 is a single movement of three to four minutes' duration. The score, composed onto graph paper, is made up of a series of boxes and symbols that provide for the performer the tone color (pizzicato, harmonics, or normal bowed or arco notes), register (high, middle and low ranges) and durations (through the relative lengths of the boxes) of the notes, along with a basic tempo. The actual pitch selection, as well as dynamics and subtleties of timbre and articulation, are left to the performer's interpretation. In actual realization, the mood of the piece is one of stillness. Individual notes seem to emerge from a pervasive silence (in fact, silence is every bit as important as sound in the piece). High harmonics are supported by low pizzicato notes early on. The pizzicati then move to high and low extremes. Normal bowed notes become more prominent in the second half of the piece, but pizzicati alone are heard in the composition's final seconds. [allmusic.com]

Art by Alfred Manessier

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