AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Morgan Evans-Weiler – Unfinished Variations (for Jed Speare) [Weighter Recordings]

Morgan Evans-Weiler’s Unfinished Variations (for Jed Speare) is a 44-minute piece dedicated to the memory of Jed Speare (1954-2016), a Boston-area sound artist who created audio soundscapes and sculptures out of found sounds. Far from being found, the sounds that Evans-Weiler crafts on this work for solo violin are carefully constructed and assembled; like much sculpture, the long performance is built up of discrete and elementary structural units that combine into a strong architectural whole. These units consist of a set of related gestural themes, which Evans-Weiler varies through a series of small-scale movements. He works with motifs derived from microtonal chords and basic bowing patterns, which he subjects to changes of length and intensity. In their simplicity of material and dynamic restraint, the quieter sections recall Morton Feldman’s musical language; the collateral sounds of rasping bowhair traversing the strings adds a degree of material immediacy to these passages. In the louder and texturally thicker middle sections, the bowstrokes become boulder and more strident, while the convergences and divergences of the pitch material become correspondingly more continuous and pronounced. Evans-Weiler makes good use of silences as structural elements, breaking the long piece into discrete events that maintain their distinct characters but nevertheless support each other.

Daniel Barbiero