Music for the mouse in my house

Music for the mouse in my house


norman lebrecht

June 12, 2020

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

…. The 2nd string quartet (1973) is not as forbidding as it sounds, and often rather soothing. If you’re likely to be in lockdown much longer, you may start singing it in the shower. The Arditi Quartet, who could make flock wallpaper sound interesting, gave an epic performance in Vienna 10 years ago, part of which is now released on Capriccio. Actually, I love it….

Read on here.

And here.


  • Dr Presume says:

    From the review… “This gave him the structure to write a second string quartet wth orchestra that lasts six hours, among other indulgences”

    No, he did not write a “second string quartet with orchestra” in 1973. He wrote a piece called “String Quartet and Orchestra” in 1973, which is a short work (c25 minutes), the whole of which is contained on the new Capriccio release.

    Not to be remotely confused with the actual 2nd string quartet, from 1983.

    • Sol Siegel says:

      “String Quartet and Orchestra” is one of a series of concerted works that Feldman wrote for European orchestras starting about the time (ca. 1973) that he gained a permanent appointment to teach composition at the University of Buffalo. I think it’s a fine piece, but it surely isn’t the Second Quartet, which I have actually heard in concert (five hours, 55 minutes!) or even the First (a “mere” 90). BTW, the redoubtable Hans Zender once released a double-CD set of four of those concert works on cpo that’s still worth investigating.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Are we not confusing two separate things ? There’s the second SQ (which is 5 or 6 hours) and the piece called “String Quartet and Orchestra” which is what the Ardittis seem to be playing here

  • Yes! Feldman is music is comforting, dreamy and soothing. Ideal for these troubled times. “Rothko Chapel” is my favorite piece of his. Very beloved in Germany but underrated elsewhere, I believe.

    • Hilary says:

      “ very beloved in Germany but underrated elsewhere “

      The London Sinfonietta rarely played Feldman during his lifetime. Infact he made a slightly bitchy comment about the ‘London Sinfonietta kind of piece with too many notes’ in an interview.

      Now, Feldman is widely appreciated.

  • Morgan says:

    In 2016 Tate Modern/ in conjunction with Radio 3 mounted a performance of Feldman’s 2nd String Quartet by the Flux quartet.
    Starting at midnight, the patient unfolding of events , and wide variety of styles elegantly assembled together by this modern master left the audience captivated.

  • John Borstlap says:

    ‘Coptic Light’ is a wonderful, truly beautiful sound art piece, a texture of subtle patterns woven like those ancient Egyptian carpets which were Feldman’s inspiration:

    One should not listen to it as music, but as pure sound. It is abstract as eastern art often is.

    The patterns are changing all the time, producing ever new variations of colour. The surprises are in the details, as in those Coptic carpets.–human-motif-3rd-6th-c-ad.html

    The impression is of something very ancient, alien, mysterious. Its inspiration must have been the introduction to the 2nd part of Stravinsky’s Sacre:

  • E says:

    String Quartet + Orchestra.
    The mouse or mice must be…enchanted.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The Texas Institute of Technology had carried-out a research programme in 2016 about musical receptivity by rodents. In one of the experiments, 30 mice were exposed to Feldman’s ‘Rothko Chapel’ and all of them died within 10 minutes. As Dr Plainworth of TIT explained: ‘For us it was already unbearable but for the poor animals it was definitely too much’. This was after the same mice had been exposed to Wagner’s complete Ring cycle without any side effects: they listened attentively and jeered at the killing of the dragon.