“The mission undertaken by the FLUX players — Tom Chiu and Conrad Harris, violinists; Max Mandel, violist; Felix Fan, cellist — was something like tilting at windmills while mounted on tortoises and armed with feather dusters.”
"The Flux Quartet made all the difference…The players displayed an astounding ear for sound that made each gradation of timbre palpable…"
"…the Flux members approached their work with utmost seriousness, performing with painstaking care and utter conviction…proof that Feldman’s legacy is in good hands with the Flux Quartet…"
"Intense, fiery sections alternate with moments of haunting solitude, all vividly illuminated by the Flux Quartet…"
"The dynamic Flux Quartet gave an engrossing and volatile account of the Italian modernist composer Giacinto Scelsi’s String Quartet No.2 …"
"…The FLUX Quartet is legendary for its furiously committed, untiring performances…"
"…the LACMA gallery became a mystical space… [in] Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2 — a work of legend and of indescribable beauty… the Flux was remarkable."
Feldman: String Quartet No.1, Three Pieces for String Quartet, Structures by FLUX Quartet – Album Reviews
New York Times, Anthony Tommasini
(Mode 269/70; two CDs, with bonus DVD)
“The composer Morton Feldman (1926-87) was an American maverick of a particular bent. He valued quietude, stillness, precision and mystical allure in his works, which often use minimal materials spun out over long spans. But six hours? That’s the seemingly unplayable length of Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2 (1983). Yet in 1999, the courageous Flux Quartet performed the work complete in New York, then recorded it two years later on an essential Mode five-disc set. The violinist Tom Chiu is the only remaining member of the roster of players. But the current ensemble is just as dedicated to Feldman. Its new Mode recording, another essential and impressive release, offers Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1 (1979), a score that clocks in at a mere 90 minutes, though the music still unfolds in spare, minimal, quietly riveting gestures, sometimes unearthly, strange and scratchy. When something startling happens, like a fleeting mezzo-forte burst of chords, it sounds almost momentous. This two-disc recording (with a bonus DVD) includes two shorter Feldman works. In April, the intrepid Flux players performed Feldman’s Second Quartet in concert at the Park Avenue Armory, complete.”
Considered the ultimate masters of Morton Feldman’s 6-hour String Quartet from 1983, David Patrick Stearns, (Philadelphia Inquirer) proclaimed, “ this piece oozes a rarefied, spiritual air… The FLUX Quartet made all the difference…The players displayed an astounding ear for sound that made each gradation of timbre palpable." – Alex Ross, New Yorker, described FLUX’s live performance as "a disorienting, transfixing experience that repeatedly approached and touched the sublime."
They have performed at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, the Kennedy Center, Walker Art Center, in Mexico at the Chihuahua International Arts Festival, and in Ireland at the Samuel Beckett Centenary Festival, the Kitchen in NYC, Bowerbird in Philadelphia, EMPAC, and have been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, WNYC’s New Sounds and Soundcheck, and WFMU’s Stochastic Hit Parade. Last summer they made their debut at Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Their recordings include a new Feldman CD on MODE Records, and other composer compilations on the Tzadik, Innova, Cantaloupe, and Cold Blue Music labels. Recent performances include Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music in Austrailia, the Park Avenue Armory, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Le Jolla Summerfest, MIT and Vancouver New Music, Beyond: Microtonal Festival, Pittsburgh and they performed with Evan Ziporyn at Calgary Pro Musica. Recent premieres include works by Julian Anderson, Mathew Rosenblum and David Lang.
FLUX Quartet has paved the way for all younger quartets focusing on similar repertoire, they move between the great works of Gyorgy Ligeti, Giacinto Scelsi, John Zorn, and Iannis Xenakis to avant jazz greats such as Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake, and Roscoe Mitchell. They bring an equal flair to music from previous centuries. They have championed works by avant balloonist Judy Dunaway, Mathew Welch, and have also done significant work in dance, including collaborations with choreographers Shen Wei, Christopher Wheeldon, and Pam Tanowitz. FLUX actively pursues commissions, with recent grants from the American Composers Forum, USArtists International, Aaron Copland Fund, and the Meet-The-Composer Foundation and Chamber Music America. The group also explores new voices from its numerous college residencies throughout the US, including Wesleyan, Dartmouth, Williams, Princeton, Rice, and the College of William and Mary.
The spirit to expand stylistic boundaries is a trademark of the FLUX Quartet. Greatly influenced by the all-embracing philosophy of the Fluxus movement, violinist Tom Chiu founded FLUX with a similar aesthetic approach, in search of a living art for all people with an "anything-goes, do-it-yourself" spirit. To that end, FLUX has always been committed to projects of unique vision that defy aesthetic categorization, such as the monumental work by Feldman.
Their recent Feldman 1 recording has garnered some superb reviews: Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times proclaimed: “Its new Mode recording, another essential and impressive release, offers Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1 (1979), a score that clocks in at a mere 90 minutes, though the music still unfolds in spare, minimal, quietly riveting gestures, sometimes unearthly, strange and scratchy. When something startling happens, like a fleeting mezzo-forte burst of chords, it sounds almost momentous.” Bruce A. Russell for I Care if you Listen: “The new release, featuring Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1 (1979) with Structures (1951) and Three Pieces for String Quartet (1954-56), presents a less daunting listening task than the earlier one, and yet there is much that is epic and unprecedented in it.” Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle stated: “New York’s formidable Flux Quartet has made something of a specialty of Morton Feldman’s terrifying six-hour String Quartet No. 2 (including a fine recording), so the group’s new recording of the String Quartet No. 1 – which clocks in at a mere 80 minutes or thereabouts – feels almost like a bagatelle. Almost, but not really: Feldman’s gentle repeating patterns and spare, exquisitely etched harmonies are still an immersive experience at whatever length, and the First Quartet, from 1979, is no exception.”