fp 27/02/2007; Toby Deller; Grosvenor Chapel, London
Although the immediate impetus to the composition of this work was Toby Deller's suggestion to me in 2006, the roots of it really go back a decade further, to 1996, when I first heard Feldman's music at the Huddersfield Festival. It was a revelation, an experience that forced me to think about music and what it might be in an entirely new way. One always searches for such moments, but they become more elusive as one ages.
There's something inherently melancholy about a work for a solo instrument; music is essentially a social activity, and yet here you have a solitary player, so there's immediately a sense of absence, which seems appropriate in an homage to a dead man. But in this one person standing alone performing there's also a sense of courage, a quality that I think is integral to Feldman's music.
If I were to write a detailed description of this piece for you (something I'm not going to do - you don't need words to understand music, only open and attentive ears) I would probably refer to the protagonist as "the viola". But what are you hearing? An instrument? Or the performer operating it? The thoughts of the composer? Or the ghost of a man 20 years dead?
Something happens towards the end that addresses these issues in an unexpected way. After that, there is a gradual withdrawal from music to silence.