Rothko Chapel by Morton Feldman
For the next series of posts, I’m going to review the work of composer Morton Feldman and his relationship with the contemporary art scene and art in general. For the first of this series, we will start small with “Rothko Chapel.” In this nine minute piece, Feldman transforms the notes into the kind of brushstrokes that Rothko must have used during his creative process. In fact, I can practically see Rothko painting to this music as he fills in those shapes of colors. The simple notes and faint plucks of strings bring out this achingly mournful and melancholy atmosphere. A eulogy to Rothko’s troubled life, no doubt. In between the stringed instruments performing, background instruments resemble intakes of breath. Similar to the chanting of monks. After the middle part, the vocals turn into this ghostly wail as plinks of high-pitched strings and piano keys interplay with the voices. Then the vocals and strings raise in volume, as if revealing a monster in horror film.
A beautiful tribute to Rothko’s life, for it will leave you overwhelmed and haunted.