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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Morton Feldman - String Quartet No.2 (DVD)

Morton Feldman – String Quartet No. 2 by The FLUX Quartet

(Audio DVD version)


Sound: B     Music: B



Mode Records continues to experiment with classical music and technology in their new presentation of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2.  Running over six hours, this performance of the 1983 piece was recorded by The FLUX Quartet for this 2002 release.  Also issued as a five-CD set, this single audio-only DVD offers a PCM 2.0 48kHz/24Bit version (versus CD’s more limited 16Bit/44.1kHz sound) in Stereo on a single DVD disc with very limited menus.


The advantage of having it in this format, besides the performance of the sound itself, is that you can play the work non-stop the way the 126-page-work was intended to be heard.  The lack of breaks is as important as watching a film on DVD or tape versus the old 12” LaserDisc format, where each side of the disc could only hold an hour of audio and video (CD cannot hold much more than 75 minutes of audio only) before you (or certain automatic machines) would have to flip to the other side of the disc to continue the experience.  Symphonies have had the same problem for years, something vinyl and CD could never resolve, due to their limits.


This version was issued in 2002 and by not being 96kHz, does not qualify as a DAD (Digital Audio Disc), 192kHz HDAD (High Definition Audio Disc, both of which could also play on all DVD players), or DVD-Audio (with its MLP format) is simply an audio-only DVD.  With that said, the fidelity is not bad, but whether you play it in Pro Logic surround or any other kind of surround is a matter of preference.  As it stands, the sound is better that the usual CD performance and one wonders if the other formats could have fit all six hours on one disc.


The music is slow, quiet, abstract and somehow manages to run through all types of thoughtful string playing without being repetitious or hitting any “false” notes.  Non-Classical fans and those who are not happy with current works in the Classical genre will be happy to know that the work is better than you might expect, while I would say in general that it has a certain “cinematic” feel as if it is representing a narrative of some sort.  Here, it would be the late (1926 – 1987) composer’s lifetime of what he thinks of the potential and subtle power of strings.  Instead of the stereotypical “violin-pity” syndrome, this is a more disciplined work and to have it in this form is not only nice, but also much preferred.  String Quartet No. 2 is worth your time and the risk of hearing something more modern in the Classical genre that has merit.


The single DVD comes in a box and is accompanied by a booklet in several languages that gives more details and information about the work and the man.  The only odd thing is that the disc is in an old CD jewel case with DVD logos in place of CD logos.  The oddest thing is that it does not have a door on it.  However, this is typical of the distinct and risk-taking releasing Mode Records tends to do, and that too has merit of its own.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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