REVIEWS of the works of Bunita Marcus
"From the first note you played I could tell why Morton Feldman fell in love with you. Every move was perfect; every shift of register right. I don't say this to everyone, but it was a fabulous piece."
--Bill Dixon in reference to For Jeff Hoyer, January 20, 2007
"A score [Music for Bound] by Bunita Marcus ommed quietly in the recesses. The music created by striking and stroking chords inside a grand piano, gave the impression of the sounds inside one's body–or in a hushed engine room, generating, working, but in a zen-like mum."
--John Reed, Brooklyn Rail May 2008
"The concert is worth it for Bunita Marcus's Julia alone, one of the most beautiful pieces in the recent repertoire."
--Kyle Gann, Arts Journal/Post Classic, February 27, 2006
"And the cream of the concert was a reprise of a 1987 work that by now has to count as an undersung classic of post-minimalism, Bunita Marcus's Adam and Eve. Marcus was a Feldman student, and her non sequitur successions of melodic figures and harmonies remind you of him - but in this sextet for flute, violin, cello, piano, and two mallet percussionists, she adds her own graceful style of arpeggios and rhythmic repetitions, and the result sucks you into a gorgeous, dreamy reverie. (You can currently hear the piece, as well as Beglarian's, on Postclassic Radio, my Internet station.) Paul Hostetter conducted a loving performance that melted in the ears."
--Kyle Gann, Village Voice, January 25, 2005
"A significant aspect of Bunita Marcus' Music for Japan is in the composer finding just the right approach to the composition's continuity. It is a music of diverse and evocative imagery which unfolds without repetition or the customary devises for extension and variation. The work is linked together by a deceptively simple alignment of time grids (in varying degrees of coordination) both in its vertical and horizontal construction. In this regard, Marcus has composed a uniquely personal and boldly designed music, whose unhindered pacing and invented shapes create an almost hallucinatory response in the listener."
--Morton Feldman, January 1983
"Bunita Marcus' music is extremely refined, professional and decided in its pureness. It is like touching a flower, which you fear will fall down into pieces, but then it turns out to be a very strong plant. No wind can blow it away."
--Louis Andriessen, November 1986
"I am very interested in the work Two Pianos and Violin by Bunita Marcus. First of all, I am interested in the texture of time which is made from the groups of instruments, each having a different time unit. It is made up nicely just like the ocean is made up of many patterns of sounds, which is sometimes increasing or sometimes decreasing, is very beautiful - just like the designs on a Persian carpet. They are independent respectively and, at the same time, they are related to each other delicately."
--Toru Takemitsu, March 1981
"Bunita Marcus: Taking over the role once played by Rzewski's De Profundis, Marcus' piano piece Julia was the emotional high point, weaving velvet textures around chords from a John Lennon song with ineffable sadness. Lisa Moore played the intricate, Chopin-esque figurations with loving care as the audience hushed under the impact of deeply communicated feeling. Compared to Julia, every other piece I heard - in the past year, let alone in the marathon - seemed to aim for nothing deeper than a kind of brash intellectual cleverness.
--Kyle Gann, Village Voice, June 3, 1997
"...I began to think that I'd never find romantic feeling in a Bang On A Can event. But then came Julia, by Bunita Marcus, a deceptively simple solo piano piece based on a John Lennon song, beautifully played by Lisa Moore. I was thrilled to be wrong, and touched by Julia's unassuming depth."
--Greg Sandow, The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, June 12, 1997
"Marcus' Adam and Eve was a soft, undulating fabric of descending chromatic scales, heartbreaking suspensions and appoggiaturas, and an arpeggio figure that wandered from key to key as if searching for something. The confusion implicit in male/female relations was the subject, according to the composer, and the sadly determined mood called to mind the Adagio from Mahler's Ninth, the same modulating suspension forcing new beginnings from crushed hopes. It was never sentimental, just honest and vulnerable, a piece you wanted to take home with you and comfort."
--Kyle Gann, Village Voice, May 23, 1989
"On the third disc, just out, the 18-minute Adam and Eve by onetime Morton Feldman protegee Bunita Marcus states an eloquent case for the persistence of pure beauty in contemporary composition."
--Alan Rich, Los Angeles Times, 1995
"Brooklynite Bunita Marcus' The Rugmaker (1986) is a one movement work inspired by Turkish and Kurdish rug weavers, and certainly does capture a series of weaving patterns of a musically delicate fabric. It is mostly a methodical, quiet and ethereal work, using minor variations of a motive, then moving on to the same process with another motive, often tossed around among the instruments as snippets of melody and harmony. Again, Kronos played this American premiere with a rare sensitivity that brought this unusual piece alive."
--Stuart Norman, Gay Times, February 27, 1987
Re: The Rugmaker: "Ms. Marcus' work seemed a personal synthesis of the distinctive, determinedly anti-dramatic minimalism of Morton Feldman and the 'moment form' of Karlheinz Stockhausen. This is not linear but horizontal music, and there is no narrative as such nor vortex. One event followed another, in a sort of logical chain, without any sort of worldly urgency. The results were often beautiful."
--Time Page, New York Times, March 15, 1987
"The program itself was excellent including the American premiere of Bunita Marcus' fascinating The Rugmaker. The Rugmaker, inspired by the craftsmen of Turkey and Kurdistan, is an excellent score. In notes written for the program, Marcus describes the people who inspired her work. I quote her observations here, because they describe her own work, as well: 'In this (Middle Eastern) culture that prizes independence and freedom above all, the rugmakers' skills are judged not only by their formal interpretation of tradition, but also by their ability to make bold and courageous moves: to balance beige against yellow, to float an incongruous image in a field, or to deliberately alter a pattern in midstream.' This, and more, she herself has done."
--Richard Pontzious, San Francisco Examiner, December 6, 1986
"...Bunita Marcus' Music For Japan shows quite a different style of music. The piece is characterized by its logical and original approach to construction and by her insistent attitude to this approach. Her original way of composition is to treat durations of sound and their development as 'com-position' - that is, to combine the 'located' sounds. She insistently explores the development of sound as a logical structure of the ever-changing expansion and variation of sounds. Her attempts to think out of a single idea or logic (rather than picking up various attitudes one-at-a-time) might be regarded in European music as idiosyncratic and useless, but it is impossible to ignore the music's uncompromising will and logical approach."
--Kuni Akiyama, Komei News, Tokyo, March 10, 1983
As Conductor ~
("For Samuel Beckett," Morton Feldman) "Marcus & Company gave the low-keyed, subtly changing, non-noisy Feldman work its due in concentration and internal coloration. It moves steadily and slowly through myriad shifts in timbre and harmonic configuration, altering its direction (never its lack of speed) in small ways. Temporal values emerge and rise to consciousness and one seems to move with tiny but unmeasured steps across a plain of small events. At the quiet ending, after the lengthy middle, that colorless horizon has come to seem inevitable."
--Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1989
"Another performance of particular significance was the opening night presentation of Morton Feldman¹s "For Samuel Beckett," written shortly before the composer's death in 1987. Bunita Marcus conducted members of the Cal Art New Twentieth century Players in a lovingly detailed account of this difficult piece. Often hypnotic, sometimes maddening in its persistence, Feldman's music does capture the time-out-of-joint, dream-like landscape of Beckett."
--Farb., Variety, Wednesday, March 15, 1989
As Pianist ~
"Many works of Morton Feldman were performed - but the most notable was Bunita Marcus' interpretation of the piano solo Palais de Mari (1986). It is rare that one hears a translation with so much love for all the details of this music that lives through the nuances and subtlety of rhythm and touch."
--Paul van Emmerik, Het Parool (Amsterdam), July 3, 1987
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