David Felder

(b. 1953)

mode 89

A Pressure Triggering Dreams


mode 89  DAVID FELDER: a pressure triggering dreams…
a pressure triggering dreams (1996-97); Six Poems from Neruda’s “Alturas”(1992-93) for orchestra (June in Buffalo Orchestra conducted by Harvey Sollberger and Magnus Martensson); Coleccion Nocturna (1982-83) for clarinet, piano & 4 channel tape (Jean Kopperud, clarinets. James Winn, piano

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A Pressure Triggering Dreams
Program notes in English with French and German translations ([20] p. : port.) linked to from resource. The 1st and 3rd works for orchestra; the 3rd work for clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), piano, and 4-channel tape. Jean Kopperud, clarinet, bass clarinet, James Winn, piano (2nd work) ; David Felder, electronics (3rd work) ; June in Buffalo Orchestra (1st, 3rd works) ; Magnus Martensson (1st work) or Harvey Sollberger (3rd work), conductor. Recorded in 1993.

Six Poems from Neruda’s, Alturas… (1992-3) 2:50, 14:12, 7:21
June in Buffalo Festival Orchestra
Magnus Martensson, conductor

Coleccion Nocturna (1982-3) 18:35
Jean Kopperud, clarinet and bass clarinet
James Winn, piano
4-channel tape

a pressure triggering dreams (1996-7) 20:28
June in Buffalo Festival Orchestra
Harvey Sollberger, conductor
David Felder, electronics

Each of these fairly large works, between eighteen and twenty-five minutes in duration, has some relationship to the poetry of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, or to a brief, provocative phrase coined by Nietzsche.

Coleccion Nocturna for clarinets, piano and 4-channel tape, is a work of haunting isolation and nostalgia that is loosely based on the Neruda poem of the same name.

Six Poems from Neruda’s Alturas…, commissioned jointly by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, was selected by an international jury as the only American orchestral composition to be performed at the International Society of Contemporary Music Festival in Stockholm, Sweden. Like Neruda’s cycle of twelve poems on which it is based, the music weaves together images and themes such as reverence for nature, cyclical aspects of regeneration, irresistible death and its accompanying transience of the individual against a background of the collective vastness of time. This is accompanied by a strong sense of individual isolation and alienation and a powerful feeling of loss and longing for a discovery of a greater identity.

a pressure triggering dreams, was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra for Carnegie Hall. The symphony orchestra is accompanied by an ‘orchestra’ consisting entirely of computer-processed flute sounds within the orchestral tapestry, and the orchestra is expanded by using live sampler keyboards, electric bass, and selectively amplifying solo instruments. The title is a rough translation of some remarks made by Nietzsche in Birth of Tragedy, where he spoke of the effect of Wagner’s musical language upon the listener.

David Felder is one of the leading American composers of his generation. His works have been featured at many of the leading international venues for new music including festivals such as Holland, Huddersfield, Darmstadt, ISCM, North American New Music, Vienna Modern, and many others. Currently, Felder is Professor of Composition at SUNY Buffalo, where he has also been Artistic Director of the innovative June in Buffalo Festival from 1985 to the present.

Language : English, French, German.


Six Poems from Neruda’s “Alturas”, Coleccion Nocturna, a pressure triggering dreams.

Mode 89
June in Buffalo Orchestra, Magnus Martensson, Harvey Sollberger (conds.), David Felder (electronics), Jean Kopperud (clarinets), James Winn (piano).

…This EMF was my introduction to David Felder, and I had to hear more. Felder has deservedly won his share of acclaim and awards, and in 1985 Feldman handpicked him to be his peer at the University of New York at Buffalo. If you like composers who know what to do with poetry, or who can successfully integrate electronics into their work, or who just plain know how to write music that’s worth hearing, then you must get to know Mr. Felder You can also hear his work on a recent disc from Mode, and an older one on Bridge. Interestingly, all these have similar cover art (especially the EMF and Mode releases), done by the same artist, Alfred DeCredico.

The EMF begins with Felder’s In Between for solo percussionist and orchestra, an engrossing work. He crafts dissonant, glacial blocks of orchestral sound and the solo percussionist wanders through them. The opening (staggered entrances and exits over long-sustained chords) is a touch otherworldly, and it’s hard to tell when the soloist comes to the fore, as the orchestra has three percussionists of its own. Felder’s orchestration is skillful: A drawn-out oboe phrase supported with bassoons can be punctuated by slow-moving muted strings. There are building climaxes that emphasize held notes, and even octaves or occasional small-interval brass glissandi I have heard in Scelsi. I don’t feel right calling this a concerto – both soloist and orchestra seem to be on the same team, if that makes sense.

Coleccion Nocturna, Felder’s other item on the disc, is 15 years younger than In Between. It’s more clearly a concerto, in this case for solo clarinet, piano, and orchestra. Interestingly, the clarinet is much more ostentatious than the piano, whose largely linear and upper-range role is to intercede between clarinet and orchestra. An atmosphere of virtuosity has the clarinet competing with the orchestra for attention and dominance. I found it much less commanding than In Between until about the two-thirds point, when the pulse of the work slowed down greatly as if revealing a mystery. Now, I didn’t find any mention of it in the notes, but I heard what could only be a tape. A few times I caught the distinct backwards attack and release of a piano note, but there were moments when I could briefly hear the piano note beating, as if playing against a slightly slowed-down double of itself. This made me listen more closely; not that it’s a parlor trick, but it was clear that there is a lot more going on in this piece than I first imagined.

Felder has a splendid grasp of what I like to think of as “pulse.” This isn’t a foursquare boom-box rhythm coming from a passing car; it remains in the background as the basic speed at which major changes occur. Felder handles slow and relaxed pulses amazingly and, come to think of it, so did Feldman in his later oeuvre. Felder, though, has more propulsion and even intensity at slow pulse then Feldman did.

Mode 89 presents the chamber version of Felder’s Coleccion Nocturna, scored for clarinet, piano and tape (the notes do say that the orchestral version has a tape part!). It’s fascinating to hear these siblings side by side. Not everybody’s idea of fun, but viewing a composer work through similar material in two coherent and substantial versions lends great insight into the choices a composer makes, especially when each alternative produces such a convincing statement on its own. While it’s not as easy to hear that clarinet and piano proceeding in variations, the result becomes richer and more introspective as new sounds are explored.

The Mode recording starts with a virtuosic orchestral work, Six Poems from Neruda’s “Alturas” Three differently sized and exquisitely crafted movements wrestle with Neruda’s poetry. The first is a loud miniature of barely three minutes, with a searingly fast melodic line whose great leaps are propelled throughout the orchestra. The central one is the longest (over 14 minutes), and it combines four poems – the outer movements tackle one poem each. The finale reflects the repetitive rhythms in the text with moments of driving repetition. The diversity of length, texture and mood creates an arresting spell.

The last effort, a pressure triggering dreams, is for large orchestra and electronics. The electronics appear in multiple guises: benignly as amplification for selected instruments, and strikingly as sampled sounds manipulated from a keyboard. The synthesizer employs mostly flute-sampled tones, and after an opening with an extended orchestral outburst, the texture turns thin and eerie as the synthesizer comes to the fore — gentle, clicking, insectile noises and a wash of distorted flutes.
La Folia, 2002

David Felder
“a pressure triggering dreams”

Mode 89

Coleccion Nocturna (1983) is the earliest of Felder’s Neruda pieces recorded to date (there are many others, according to the notes, but most have yet to be issued on CD). It is a set of five “variations” on what Felder calls, “a wholly self-contained musical object” from man older piano work called Rocket Summer. The “theme” never seems to be presented clearly in its entirety, but what is clear is that diatonic fragments are heard trying to poke their way through five contrasting, modernistically surreal textures…

The Six Poems from Neruda’s Alturas (1992-3) for orchestra is three movements based on six of the cycle of twelve poems in Neruda’s searching cycle, Alturas de Macchu Picchu. This time, Felder assigns specific poems to each movement. I is a rugged, fearsome, explosion based upon poem 2 that seems to reflect the text’s anger and anguish. II (based upon poems 1, 3, 4, and 5) is a landscape of desolate beauty filled with lush harmonic expanses — there is a raucous climax about one-third of the way through, but for the most part this movement is thoughtful and has authentic depth. Here Felder truly seems to plunge “a turbulent and tender hand to the most secret organs of the earth”, in the words of Neruda. Some of these “secret organs” seem to be references to Felder’s earlier works, a procedure that Neruda himself employed in the construction of his cycle. Their presence here, if that’s what they are, gives the movement a mysterious, dream-like atmosphere that at once invites and eludes further investigation. III returns to the rugged atmosphere of I and ends with a powerful cataclysm based on the rhythms of poem 9…

The final piece is A Pressure Triggering Dreams for orchestra and electronics (1997), written in response to a commission from the American Composers Orchestra, who asked for the inclusion of electronics. These take the form of computer-processed flute sounds, sampler keyboard (percussion), electric bass, and selectively amplified solo instruments–in other words they seek to augment the “real” orchestra rather than conflict with them. In the outer sections, long lines that are essentially monophonic in nature are surrounded by graffiti-like interferences producing an anxiety-ridden cacophony reminding me of Turnage (I guess these sections are the “pressure”)…

Felder is a strong composer with impressive technique. Though its not immediately obvious, he can be heard as a neo-romantic who is not afraid of using an expanded and often extremely dissonant harmonic palette. I would like to see him find a balance between aggression and intensity; his taste for intransigent sonorities has a tendency to get in the way of what are fundamentally clearly conceived and arrestingly executed compositions. Performances and sonics are astonishing.
— Gimbel, excerpt from American Record Guide, volume 63,
#6, November, 2000

David Felder
a pressure triggering dreams

Mode 89

David Felder is Professor of Composition at SUNY Buffalo, where he has run the June in Buffalo Festival since 1985. The bio included with this disc mentions a Ph.D. from UC San Diego in 1983, though no teachers are named (maybe someone should check dates to see if he crossed paths with incoming Brian Ferneyhough). The three works here are, as they used to say, inspired by Neruda and Nietzsche, though no texts of theirs are set; two are scored for symphony orchestra (plus added electronics in the title track), and one for smaller forces. Felder begins his own liner notes with a long and curious rant against composers writing their own liner notes, though his “circumstantial evidence” isn’t all that far-removed from the “aesthetic position-paper” he criticizes others for – perhaps he should have asked someone else to do the notes for him (or better yet, provide none at all). “Coleccion Nocturna” is a tricky piece for clarinet, piano and tape, well-rooted in the lingua franca of post-War new music as filtered through American academe (parts of it sound rather like Donald Martino). Though it at times outstays its welcome at eighteen minutes, it’s not without its moments. At least it’s intimate in its soundworld, unlike the two orchestral pieces which frame it on this disc. A word springs to mind listening to these: earnest. They’re both very heroic, with loads of booming timpani, clattering xylophones and great striding brass themes, but proof yet again that almost every living North American composer who writes for orchestra is pathetically unable to escape the influence of Stravinsky and Varèse; throw in Ruggles and Shapey and you’ve got a standard recipe for the majority of new American orchestral compositions written in the last thirty years – whether it be the glitzy Disney of Torke, the Superman bombast of Daugherty or the pretty octatonic New Age reverie of Schwanter, fin de siècle American orchestral music owes megabucks to “Amériques” and the “Symphony in Three Movements”. Of course, severe budgetary restrictions on rehearsal time coupled with the legendary who-gives-a-damn-for-new-music mentality of orchestral musicians and the conservative (too say the least) attitude of promoters and audiences rule out the kind of orchestral innovation that flourished briefly in Europe in the 50s and 60s (and which led to a few genuinely innovative orchestral masterpieces of the post-War period, by the likes of Ligeti, Stockhausen, Xenakis and Zimmermann). Related to this, the increasing complexity of contemporary compositional techniques coupled with composers’ frustration with the above situation has led most of them to write more for smaller, more dedicated (more professional?) ensembles. Felder’s orchestral writing is, then, impressive while being for the most part unsurprising (though there is a splendid passage of eerie glissandi in “a pressure triggering dreams” that deserved to be developed further). The extra electronics (processed flute sounds and sampler) add occasional touches of color, but once those ‘bones and timps come crashing in, we might as well be back in “Arcana”.
— Dan Warburton, www.paristransatlantic.com/,
October 2000

David Felder
“a pressure triggering dreams”

Mode 89

Here in Denmark, the possibilities to find new American music on CD are surprisingly poor. Is it because sales and export over there are more commonly done over the internet than in Europe. Here is, however, a CD from mode records, that I previously knew through Cage releases, with three works by David Felder.

Felder is Professor of Composition at SUNY Buffalo, and his professional craftsmanship is immediately displayed from the first seconds of Six Poems from 1993, where one is suddenly surprised by an effect-full, hard edged orchestral writing. In what follows, the listener quickly understands that David Felder has an impressive ability to establish a sound universe, in which one is taken through every corner of experience, with Felder’s special love for the brutally hammered, dramatic contrasts, thrilling effects (as in film music), and with a well developed formal thread in the shape of long, expansive melodic lines.

The work sounds like a contemporary variant of the tone language that was established with Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra Op.16, from 1909. That, which at the time was the beginning of something new, is here presented in an established shape, with the musical conquests of the 20th century as background. We are dealing with a combination of a well known expressionistic tradition, and something immediate, and elemental, that cannot escape making an impression. Interestingly enough, Felder emphasizes the fact that the work is based on a fragment that was intuitively composed, and that was used as an “ur-source”, in that all material in the piece is obtained from this source, and that it is continuously present saturating all layers of the composition.This technique seems immediately parallel to the discovery/invention of dodecaphony three quarters of a century ago.

Of course, it is not a re-invention of the deeper palate. Felder knows both dodecaphony and its history. His music can serve as an excellent example of the desire for the unification of compositional principles, when it comes to single works, groups of works, or, in general, for the entire output, that has been present in so many of the composers of the last decades of the 20th century. Dodecaphony and serialism are here a precondition for the unfolding of individual creativity. To meet the works on this CD, that all arouse the traces of the historical establishment of all subsequent expressionistic bases, is both a peculiar and a thought provoking experience.

There is not for a moment a doubt that these three works are contemporary music. Such is also true for Coleccion Nocturna, for clarinet, piano, and tape(1982), and, a pressure triggering dreams, (1997). In the former, we meet a chamber musical version of the language in Six Poems, whose full title indicates its inspiration from Pablo Neruda’s poetry. This inspiration is also the basis for Coleccion Nocturna, in which we hear the melodic lines in a hovering polyphonic universe with the clarinet as the guide. In, a pressure…, the inspiration comes from Nietsche – the title is an expression of Nietsche’s thoughts about Wagner’s music and its consequences on the listener. The orchestra is here supplemented by computer processed flute sounds and amplified-effects. What we hear here is not a synthesis between natural and synthetically processed sounds, but an effect-full ‘concertino’ — an orchestra within the orchestra. This creates an almost schizophrenic experience, which supports the tension-filled, compressed character. There are not many resting points in this work, which is filled with contrasts and violent explosions.

In all, David Felder’s music is filled with an immediate appeal and is penetrated by an outstanding control of compositional techniques. The performances on this CD are on that same level.
Dansk Musiktijdskrift, October, 2000

Mode 89
Six Poems from Neruda´s `Alturas´.
June in Buffalo Orchestra, Magnus Martensson, conductor

Coleccion Nocturna
Jean Kopperud, clarinet, bass-clarinet
James Winn, piano
4-channel tape

a pressure triggering dreams
June in Buffalo Orchestra, Harvey Sollberger, conductor
David Felder, electronics

The American Composer David Felder (b.1953) is, sadly, neither well known nor widely performed in Europe, despite the fact that some of his earlier chamber works have been presented at many of the top festivals for contemporary music, be it the Holland Festival, Huddersfield, Wien Modern or Darmstadt.

In recent years, his writing turned more and more towards big, uncompromising and extremely difficult orchestra pieces with the result that those works are hardly ever played even in the States. Orchestras want to have an easy life and rehearsal time for demanding contemporary works is generally counted in minutes rather than hours. Recently, Felder commented: “My music is very difficult and as I like to say, it is not coming to your town soon.” But his time will come and if it is only because great music has always come to light and can not be suppressed. By now, orchestras have learned, how to play Mahler, Ives and, more or less against their will, even Birtwistle. If the big ones want to survive, they will have to learn, how to cope with music that does not crawl on all fours before an orchestra or an audience.

David Felder, who in his youth belonged to the tenor voices of the Cleveland Symphony Choir (Music Director Pierre Boulez), sitting right behind the middle of the brass section, and who, simultaneously, ran his own radio station and earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, in 1983. His interest in electronics led to his being labeled an electronic composer, which is utter nonsense. For many years, Felder has taught composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he also holds the Birge-Carry Chair in Composition. Since 1985 he leads and directs the Festival “June in Buffalo”, a weeklong seminar for emerging young composers; from 1992 to 1996 he had been composer-in-residence to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, while in 1996 he formed the Slee Sinfonietta, one of the very few chamber orchestras in the USA entirely devoted to contemporary music.

His works are published by Theodore Presser; his first CD containing various chamber music had been released on the Bridge Label in 1996, and was named “disc of the year” in chamber music by the American Record Guide. His second CD, released this June on the mode label, confronts the listener with two of Felder´s most complex and outstanding works for orchestra, “Six Poems from Neruda´s `Alturas”.(1992-93) and “a pressure triggering dreams” (1996-97) as well as the chamber version of “Coleccion Nocturna”(1982-83) for clarinet, bass-clarinet, piano and 4-channel tape.

Having listened to those three works over and over I am always astonished that, despite the wide-ranging changes in dynamics and colours, any so called `contemporary´ smack is missing entirely. It is music for the 21st century, true to itself, extremely powerful, honest and full of discovery.

“Coleccion Nocturna”, the title of a poem by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, whose thinking had a profound influence on Felder, consists of five variations, based on a theme from an earlier work. They mirror a kind of electrifying tension as well as a crystallization of emotions, 19 minutes of foremost constantly changing musical perspectives, which despite the technical demands speak with an extraordinary directness. “Six Poems from Neruda´ s `Alturas´..” had been commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1994, the work had its European premiere during the Festival of the International Society of Contemporary Music in Stockholm. For this recording as well as for the recording of “a pressure triggering dreams” David Felder was able to use the June in Buffalo Orchestra, dedicated and committed virtuoso players from all over the States and Canada, assembled each year for the Festival June in Buffalo. The result is just breathtaking. Neruda may have triggered the first and decisive impulse, but it is the music, which captivates instantly. Suddenly, the complex compositional structure becomes irrelevant; there is ingenious music in its purest sense, which with its sheer power, aesthetics and depth does not ask any theoretical questions, but wants to be listened to many times. The overflowing evocative tension, the sensual atmosphere, the sometimes depressive, but soon again playful gestures as well as the sublime irony in all three movements breathe an incredible tenseness. Felder combines his deep knowledge of the past and the present with a constant searching on a philosophical, human and musical level – a Gustav Mahler for the 21st century. Those 25 minutes confront us with all the inner dimensions of the human existence. Despite its performing difficulties – originally even Mahler had been rejected as unplayable by certain orchestras – this work earns a constant place in the repertoire of any great orchestra.

“a pressure triggering dreams”, commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra with the request to incorporate electronics, had its premiere at New York´s Carnegie Hall in May 1997. The full orchestra sound is complemented by a companion `orchestra´ consisting entirely of computer-processed flute sounds, by live sampler keyboards, electric bass and by selectively amplified solo instruments. For Felder, some quotes from Nietzsche´s ” The Birth of Tragedy” serve as a kind of mental godfather. But any literal impulse as well as any compositional detail are secondary compared to the overwhelming unfolding of the musical impact – 20 minutes of fulfilled music, which absorbed the past and creates on the basis of an universal view of life new and fascinating energies.

This technically impeccable recording, conducted by Magnus Martensson and Harvey Sollberger under the supervision of the composer, should ease the way for David Felder to be heard live on European concert platforms.
— Hans-Theodor Wohlfahrt. Classical Music on the Web, October 2000

David Felder
“a pressure triggering dreams”

Mode 89

David Felder gets a chance to show what he can do with orchestra in this brilliant recording and the results are amazing. These brilliant compositions show why David Felder just might be America’s most underrated composer.
Editor’s Choice for September, 2000, Sequenza 21.com webzine

David Felder
“a pressure triggering dreams”

Mode 89

Readers of “City” will recall that David Felder is the director of the June in Buffalo contemporary music festival. As if that didn’t put him solidly enough on the side of the angels, Felder’s own music is wonderfully accomplished stuff.

Felder’s inspiration for these three works (written between 1982 and 1997) is literary — poems of Pablo Neruda, and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy — but his music is mighty eloquent on its own. All three of these pieces are sizable and complicated, but their construction is clear and telling, they are full of beautiful and unexpected (and electronic) touches, and their braininess is balanced by emotional power. With their racketing dissonance and emotional extremes (spelled by passages of exquisite, eerie quiet), these pieces are not easy listening — the two orchestral works, Six Poems, and a pressure triggering dreams, are overwhelming. Felder’s music grabs your attention immediately, but when its over, you really feel like you’ve been somewhere. That’s a rare, valuable gift in this giggly, postmodern age.

“All three works are shockingly difficult to play,” Felder admits in the note for this recording, but the players here are solid gold (Jean Kopperud, the clarinetist in Coleccion Nocturna, is downright amazing) and so is the engineering, particularly the orchestral pieces. This is easily the most exciting new-music disc I’ve heard this year.
— David Raymond, Rochester City Magazine, August 22, 2000

Mode 89
* * *

Six Poems from Neruda’s <<Alturas…>>
June in Buffalo Orchestra, Magnus Martensson.

Collecion Nocturna
Jean Kopperud (clarinette), James Winn (piano).

A pressure triggering dreams
June in Buffalo Orchestra, Harvey Sollberger.

TT: 1 h 01’26”
TECHNIQUE: 6,5 – Image stéréo: 6. Définition: 7. Timbres: 6. Dynamique: 7. DDD

<<C’est une épreuve de plus pénibles dans l’univers muiscale que de devoir lire ou écouter ce les compositeurs ont à dire à propos de la musique qu’ils ont écrite.>> Quel est le compositeur qui ose ainsi, même si la généralisation est un peu excessive, enfoncer le clou ? Il s’appelle David Felder, il est Américain et son premier défaut est tout de même de ne pas mettre en pratique ses professions de fois. Ici, pour accompagner trois oeuvres enregistrées pour la première fois, don’t deux d’entre elles sont placées sous le signe de la poésie de Pablo Neruda, David Felder nous livre un long texte, d’une maladresse et d’une obscurité assez remarquables, desservi, de surcrîot, par une traduction déficiente…

Après la laecture, passons à l’écoute: le moins qu’on puisse dire, c’est que la référence à Neruda, en l’absence de tout texte chanté (ou même inclus dans le livret) ne saute pas à l’oreille. Et si Felder nous avait dit que ses muses s’appelaient Shakespeare ou Victor Hugo, nous ne l’aurions pas moins cru. Il reste donc une musique sans propos convaincant, sans itinéraire cohérent. Une série de microclimats constituent, dans Six Poems From Neruda’s <<Alturas…>>, une sorte de melting pot enveloppé dans un discours heurté et grandiloquent. Toujours des effets sonores très illustratifs, des déterlements visiblement destinés à tester la résistance d’un orchestre symphonique (ici, le <<June in Buffalo Orchestra>>) dans a pressure triggering dreams – référence à Nietzsche, qui se réfère lui-même à Wagner!?

A ces <<grosses machines>>, on peut préférer Coleccion Noturna pour clarinette (et clarinette basse) et piano: moins de moyens, mais plus de musique. Et la clarinettiste Jean Kopperud déploie une belle agilité dans un champ d’exploration instrumentale particulièrement inventif.

— Claude Samuel, Diapason, Février 2001

David Felder
“a pressure triggering dreams”

Mode 89

David Felder, Jahrgang 1953, gehört ohne jeden Zweifel weit über seine amerikanische Heimat hinaus zu den gewichtigsten und kompromisslosesten, einem neuen Jahrhundert verpflichteten Komponisten. Viele seiner kammermusikalischen Werke haben auf den unterschiedlichsten europäischen Festivals, darunter Huddersfield, Wien Modern, Darmstadt, Genua oder Ravinia, wenn auch nicht dauerhaft Fuß gefaßt, so doch exemplarische Aufführungen erlebt. Seit vielen Jahren ist Felder als Professor für Komposition an der Musikabteilung der State University of New York at Buffalo tätig. Dort bekleidet er den Birge-Cary Chair in Composition, leitet seit 1985 das renomierte, dem Komponistennachwuchs gewidmete Festival June in Buffalo und begründete 1996 mit der Slee Sinfonietta eines der wenigen der zeitgenössischen Musik verpflichteten Kammerorchester in den USA. Sein Ouevre vertritt der New Yorker Musikverleger Theodore Pressler. Eine erste, unterschiedlicher Kammermusik gewidmete CD erschien 1996 bei dem Label Bridge (#0049); sie wurde mit dem Disc of the Year für Kammermusik des American Record Guide ausgezeichnet.

David Felders Musik zeichnet sich durch extreme Energien und und feinsinnige lyrische Überhöhungen aus, wobei er für die Erweiterung des musikalischen Materials häufig zu ergänzenden Technologien greift. Doch wird man damit einer Persönlichkeit nicht gerecht, die sich gerade in jüngeren Jahren mehr und mehr das Orchester als Medium erkor. Die Kompositionstendenz in den Staaten und nicht nur dort vermeidet inzwischen das Orchester aus guten Gründen. Wer dennoch dafür schreibt, ist in der Regel zu Konzessionen gegenüber Orchester wie Publikum bereit nicht hingegen David Felder, was bei der Komplexität seiner von philosophischen Hintergründen geprägten Musik nicht nur Aufführungs-, sondern auch Einspielprobleme nachsichzieht. Für die vorliegende Ersteinspielung von zwei umfangreichen Orchesterkompositionen machte sich Felder das alljährlich für sein Festival berufene Solistenorchester zu Nutzen; dies hatte eine beispielhafte Interpretationsakribie zur Folge.

Im Zentrum der CD steht Coleccion Nocturna(1982-83) in der Version für Klarinette, Klavier und vierkanaliges Tonband und nicht die in diesem Zusammenhang möglicherweise interessantere Variante für Solisten, kleines Orchester und Tonband. Coleccion Nocturna ist zugleich der Titel eine Gedichts des chilenischen Dichters Pablo Neruda, dessen Geisteswelt für Felder eine ständige Inspiration bedeutet. Die fünf auf einem kurzen Thema aus einer früheren Komposition beruhenden und ineinander übergehenden Variationen spiegeln ein immenses Feld an Spannungen und eine Kristallisierung von Emotionen wider. Mag Neruda auch geistig Pate gestanden haben, so spricht aus diesem technisch diffizilen Werk von rund 19 Minuten in erster Linie der tiefe Ernst sich ständig wandelnder musikalischer Perspektiven.

Das Erstaunliche bei Felder bleibt trotz vielseitiger Wechsel von Dynamik und Farben der Mangel an jedem wie auch immer gearteten `zeitgenössischen´ Beigeschmack. Wer von Six Poems from Nerudas `Alturas´…(1992-93) nicht instinktiv gefesselt ist, der dürfte wohl nie eine innere Beziehung zu Berlioz oder mehr noch zu Mahler besitzen. Hier handelt es sich im wahrsten Sinn um geniale Musik, deren komplexe kompositionstechnische Struktur in Anbetracht ihrer Kraft, Ästhetik und Tiefe für den Hörer irrelevant bleibt. Die überquellenden evokativen Spannungsfelder, die sinnliche Atmospherik, die gelegentlich depressive und dann wieder verspielte Gestik ebenso wie die schwelende Ironie der drei Sätze beschwören in ihrer Dichte, in ihrem Suchen wie in ihrem Wissen einen Gustav Mahler des 21.Jahrhunderts. Das 25 minütige Werk konfrontiert mit jenen Gesetzmäßigkeiten, denen die menschliche Existenz unterwofen bleibt und verdient trotz seiner technischen Schwierigkeiten einen konstanten Platz im Orchesterrepertoire. Es erlebte seine europäische Erstaufführung 1994 anläßlich des Festival der internationalen Gesellschaft für Neue Musik in Stockholm.

a pressure triggering dream(1996-97), eine Auftragskomposition des American Composers Orchestra unter der Bedingung, Elektronik miteinzubeziehen, wurde im Mai 1997 in der New Yorker Carnegie Hall uraufgeführt. Mittels Computer verarbeitete Flöten, Live-Sampler-Keyboards, ein Elektrobaß und die selektive Verstärkung von Soloinstrumenten ergänzen das Orchestervolumen. Als geistiger Pate dienten Felder einige Zitate aus Nietzsches Die Geburt der Tragödie. Doch spielen erneut der literarische Anstoß und das kompositionstechnische Detail gegenüber der überwältigenden Entfaltung des Hörbilds nur eine untergeordnete Rolle. Hier handelt es sich um rund 20 Minuten erfüllte Musik, die die Vergangenheit absorbierte und auf der Basis eines universalen Weltbilds neue, faszinierende Kräfte freisetzt.

— Hans-Theodor Wohlfahrt, Neue Musik Zeitung, September 2000

David Felder
Six Poems from Neruda´s `Alturas´
June in Buffalo Orchestra
Magnus Martenson

Coleccion Nocturna       Sieben Mal Schwarz – Interpretation
Jean Kopperud, Klarinette,
James Winn, Klavier       Sieben Mal Schwarz – Editorischer Wert

a pressure triggering dreams     Sieben Mal Schwarz – Technik
June in Buffalo Orchestra
Harvey Sollberger
mode records 89


Harvey Sollberger on Mode:
Chaya Czernowin: Afatsim: Chamber Music (mode 77)