[Morton Feldman] is often considered the composer closest in spirit to [Samuel Beckett]; the two were friends and collaborators from 1976 until Feldman's death 11 years later. Originally meant to be given at a Monday Evening Concert last month but rescheduled after one of the Flux members slightly injured his hand, Saturday's performance became L.A.'s de facto Beckett centennial highlight as well.
Though of epic proportions, the Feldman Second is not an epic. It is an assemblage, not a narrative. Feldman was close friends with the Abstract Expressionist painters of the '50s in New York. I wish LACMA had taken its one Philip Guston -- "The Room" -- out of storage for the occasion. Guston and Feldman had been best of buddies. But at least other friends such De Kooning, Rothko and Pollock were hanging nearby.
Turkish rugs were also a passion for the composer, and the everlasting quartet, like all Feldman's late long works, was all about painterly and rug-makerly things, such as tactile texture, stitching and design. The time scale wears down all resistance to the music. A commitment of nearly six hours in its presence means a slowing down of the metabolism of listening. In fact, everything slows down. Feldman's music is all about getting lost in the sheer physical beauty of the sound of an instrument or a pitch and of taking the time to examine it very, very closely.