A single work, heard here in its West Coast premiere, comprised the program given by violinist Paul Zukofsky and pianist Marianne Schroeder Saturday evening at the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, USC.
“For John Cage,” Morton Feldman’s 1982 tribute to the influential iconoclast, uses a lot of time to say little. To the extent that the composer has limited his melodic and rhythmic inventory, the label minimalist applies. But, unlike the works of Reich and Glass, no catchy ostinatos enliven this Spartan work.
It would be unfair to say that the composition doesn’t go anywhere. But it doesn’t go very far. In 70 calm and quiet minutes , Feldman slowly expands his two-note motive into a six-note one. His rhythms gradually become more complex.
Along the way, some pizzicato and sul ponticello passages add color. Indeed, there is a certain pleasing quality about “For John Cage.” But as it progresses, the simple fragments on which the work is built become, by virtue of repetition, less interesting and by the end, the essay seems pointless.
Both performers, however, deserve praise for delivering the work with extraordinary sympathy, sensitivity and style.