Michael Waller


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New York-based composer Michael Waller (USA, 1985) began experimenting with electroacoustic music, microtonality, just intonation, and droning minimalism, but through compositions such as One Less String Quartet (2010) for string quartet, Highlands (2011) for bagpipe duo, Studiare per Zero Quartetti (2012) for string trio, Trombone Too For Five (2012) for trombone duo, and Discretion (2012) for horn, bass clarinet, bassoon and string quintet, he moved into a more classical setting, heir to the impressionist chamber music of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy.

The EP Five Easy Pieces (2014) contains Per Terry e Morty (2012), L'Anno del Serpente (2013), Ninna Nanna (2013), and Acqua Santa (2013). The EP Seven Easy Pieces (2014) contains seven Miniatures for solo piano.

The double-disc The South Shore (XI, 2015) is a generous compilation of works from 2013-2014. The pieces can be grouped in layers of increasing complexity. At the bottom are from nostalgic fragments scored for one, two or three instruments, especially the eerie Organum (2014) for solo organ and Arbitrage Deux (2013) for solo clarinet, the baroque adagio Il Mento Tenuto Alto (2014) for solo violin, and the four movement Pupazzo Di Neve Partitas (2013) for solo cello (allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue). Slightly more complex are the romantic madrigal Profondo Rosso (2013) for chamber ensemble, the ecstatic and lyrical string quartet Atmosfera Di Tempo (2013), which was later re-scored for septet and re-titled Rifiuto, and the tender, doleful string trio Per La Madre E La Nonna (2013). One step up are Ritratto (2013) for saxophone, cello, electric guitar, flute, trombone and viola, La Riva Sud (2014) for piano and viola, in which minimalist repetition and brainy counterpoint prevail over emotion. At the top are abstract soundscapes such as the four-movement Y For Henry Flynt (2012) for solo cello His religious music can be solemn and geometric, like a slow-motion Bach: Nel Nome Di Gesu (2013) for cello and organ. This album contains only one sample of his experimental music, the dissonant Arbitrage for clarinet and percussion.

Trajectories (Recital, 2017) contains mostly music for solo piano, starting with the fragile filigree of the brief piano sonata By Itself. There is more life in the eight austere meditations of Visages (composed in 2015), each fueled by a complex, quasi mathematical melody, notably the tense III, the vibrant V and the narrative VII. The nine-minute Lines (2016) for piano and cello straddles the unlikely border between romantic aria and lounge jazz. The energy collapses again in the three-movement Breathing Trajectories (2016), which begins by tiptoeing through a dreamy pensive anemic mood (I) and slowly crosses the six minutes of II in an absent-minded state, awaken a few times in sudden bursts of energy. III feels more like a relaxed walk along the coast, staring at the multitude of trajectories that populate the elements.

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(Copyright © 2014 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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