R. Andrew Lee / Seth Parker Woods

Michael Vincent Waller: Trajectories

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

While Michael Vincent Waller's first album, The South Shore, introduced chamber works for various combinations of instruments, his 2017 release on Recital is somewhat more unified in its tone colors, consisting of works for piano solo and cello and piano. Trajectories continues Waller's exploration of calm, reflective moods, expressed in placid miniatures that typically employ a narrow range of pitches, the subtle interplay of modes, generally soft dynamics, and nonfunctional yet seemingly tonal harmonies. The apparent simplicity of Waller's music is belied by the sophistication of his techniques, which include a rather free, postminimalist approach to cycling patterns and considerable rhythmic variety, offsetting its Satie-like stasis. Waller's surfaces may seem simple or transparent in the opening piano piece, by itself, and in the Visages, played with delicacy by R. Andrew Lee, yet the ephemeral nature of the music invites a second listening, if only to capture something more of its elusive character. Lines introduces the cello, smoothly played by Seth Parker Woods, and the contrast of its lyrical part with the essentially harmonic piano accompaniment sets up a fragile equilibrium. Breathing Trajectories and Dreaming Cadenza, both for solo piano, offer more chromatic hues in the piano's slowly broken arpeggios, though the widely spaced pitches avoid harsh dissonances. The closing triptych, Laziness, outwardly resembles a conventional piece for cello and piano, though the periodic shifts of major and minor harmonies and the curiously gnomic cello part serve as a reminder that, in Waller's music, familiar sonorities and forms are usually treated unconventionally.

blue highlight denotes track pick