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Matthew Easton: Trio (for Morton Feldman) (1988)
for flute, clarinet in A and cello

The following note is an excerpt from an email the composer wrote to Tim Bonenfant in 2001 when he was asking for a program note, as he planned to play the piece in Edinburgh. Tim (clarinet) had premiered the work in 1988/9, along with Lynn Angebranndt (cello) and Karin Hoesli (flute).

I studied with Feldman when he was in residence at CalArts. His stories were amazing. It was like listening to a Zen master. I've had the opportunity to compare notes with one or two people who were there at that time. No one has the same interpretation of those anecdotes.

I suppose I should mention my strangely coincidental dream. This was perhaps a year or more after I had studied with Feldman. In my dream, he flew over my house, heading West at high altitude - no plane, you understand. That was the whole dream. The next day I heard that Feldman had died.

I hope my little trio doesn't come off too much as a poor attempt at emulating his style. For one thing, I doubt he would have accepted the harmony, and for another, I'm not going for the sort of "geological" time-frame that his later works convey. Certainly his teaching - and more to the point, his personality - were in my thoughts when I wrote it. A great man.

There are any number of ways to listen to a piece of music or interpret its meaning. Recall the writer Idries Shah's remark that Ravel's Bolero is a Sufi dance tune. I can imagine some portion of the audience fidgeting and flinching. To them I say, "Turn off your cell phone. Just relax. A few minutes of your time. Imagine you are getting a nice massage. You will awaken refreshed and revitalized."

Someone else may think there is a kind of Romantic feel to it - I'll go along with that too, probably more so now than when I wrote it.

Thinking back, I would say push the tempos to extremes in both directions.

Matthew Easton 2001

Trio (for Morton Feldman) is published by Leisure Planet Music.

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