In recent years, in certain circles, a question has routinely arisen: Do we really need more recordings of late Feldman, especially the lengthy works for solo piano? Is there much to be added at this point to recordings by John Tilbury (my personal gold standard), Aki Takahashi, Louis Goldstein and others. This is my ninth recording of "Triadic Memories" (1981) and there are dozens more, I'm sure. The first thing I usually check out is duration, as I'm more partial to the slower renditions. Among those in my collection, the lengths range from Takahashi (just over an hour and in my opinion, taken at too clipped a pace) to Goldstein's 110 minute plus, with most coming in between 75 and 90. Snijders, whose work I've greatly enjoyed on many a Hat release, takes about 90 minutes to navigate "Triadic Memories" (spread over two discs, 25+ for 'Piano' (1977)).
"Triadic Memories" is an amazingly beautiful and profound piece of music and can hold up to differing interpretations, at least to an extent. At the beginning of this recording it strikes this listener that Snijders, despite the overall length, hurries things a bit, but several minutes in, the pace relaxes and spreads out. I'm wondering if he took blocks of the score and decided to treat chunks of it in slightly varying manners. The work contains perhaps Feldman's most overt nods to minimalism of a sort, with numerous sections of repeated phrases. One of the main virtues of Tilbury's approach, in addition to his ineffable sense of touch, is his habit of ever so slightly playing with the tempo between phrases, especially those that are more or less repetitions. These differences can likely be measured in tenths of seconds, but their effect is extraordinary. While I don't pick that up with Snijders, he plays beautifully and clearly and the piece is recorded well enough (in 2000) that the suspended notes hang properly pearl-like in the air. The low notes resonate wonderfully, accentuating Feldman's way of offsetting single low tones with higher ones of alternating rhythmic sequences — really lovely. Overall, I still prefer the Tilbury but as both his versions are tough to come by, this one is an entirely excellent alternative.
"Piano" is a more hesitant, less flowing work, with some sonorities that specifically echo late Satie. Again, the low (very low) single notes played against related but delightfully different higher patterns is one of the most entrancing elements of the work. There are some relatively drastic dynamic shifts here which Snijders gives full vent to, startling the complacent listener.
Whether this new recording is strictly necessary remains an open question. For Feldman fans, it's almost as good as any; for newcomers, it's a mighty fine place to begin.
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