Album Review

Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett “Words and Music” [Naive Montaigne]

cujo   9/20/2006   A Library, CD

In 1961 Beckett wrote a play called Words And Music. In the play he scripts an abstract debate between the characters Words and Music, moderated by a third called Croak. Supposedly it’s about the Creative Process. In it, he also lays down explicit musical instructions for a score he envisioned but could not write, for example: ‘humble muted adsum? or ‘irrepressible burst of spreading and subsiding music?. His cousin wrote a score, but Beckett quickly withdrew the unsatisfactory effort from the public record. In the late 1980s, a producer suggested that Feldman, being Beckett’s musical equivalent, write a score. Beckett approved.

Unless you had the rare opportunity to hear a staging of the work, the music existed only in the your mind. Beckettheads are having an interesting time reconciling their conception of the music to this recording of Feldman’s score (which, like much Feldman, can very from performance to performance – there is another recording out from the Evergreen Review). One thing is for sure – the text gets a strained dramatic reading from Ebrahim and Lind; I nearly expected Orson Welles to drop in the studio.

Feldman’s score is typical Morty: sparse, unusual instrumentation, and quiet. Absent, however, is the dreamy trance that Feldman’s music normally puts me in; Beckett’s words absorb it all. One long track will make for difficult working into your program – fade liberally!

-Cujo, KFJC, September 2006

Haiku Review:
Feldman, meet Beckett
Sam’s radio play needs score
Morty delivers

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