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The piano plays mostly isolated ppp arpeggios, hypnotic permutations on a broken chord; all are in the treble clef, the sustaining pedal held down. The quartet play mostly sustained chords; the strings are muted, the hairs of their bows loosened to further soften the sound. So the music trickles and sighs, hushed and delicate, the slow dance of almost patterns never quite repeated.

Then, at circa 40 minutes, the strings slip into a gentle, rhythmic susurration – a sleeper breathing, sea stroking the shore – which continues, its voicings discreetly varied, until it fades away towards the end. Beautiful and mesmerising, yet composed largely of space and silence; this is presumably why Howard Skempton said Feldman’s Piano and String Quartet ‘exists at the intersection of the everyday and the transcendent’.

Feldman wrote the work in 1985, two years before he died. The dedicatees were Aki Takahashi and the Kronos Quartet, whose definitive 1991 recording is imbued with a translucent ethereality. This Bridge disc has a fine pianist in Vicki Ray, one of the West Coast’s leading new music specialists, who has previously recorded Feldman’s Crippled Symmetry and For Christian Wolff with the California EAR Unit. However, despite a promising opening, her colleagues in the Eclipse Quartet seem less at home with Feldman; in particular, the cellist’s heavy touch in the work’s latter stages begins to grate. The performance ends up sounding rather effortful: too much on the everyday side of the intersection.

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