Mary Oliver

Witchfiddle

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Mary Oliver is a talented violinist and violist who has made a small name for herself as a performer of avant-garde compositions and for her uniquely satisfying improvisations. Here, she engages in 11 solos that fully utilize the breadth of her instruments. At one moment, Oliver takes advantage of the percussive possibilities, and at another she waxes melodic. The results are utterly stimulating and diverse, exploring a range of emotion and styles. Surprises abound as Oliver incorporates influences from modern classical compositions to elements of jazz to radical free-form improvisation. She expresses herself beautifully with a full tone and a sophisticated technique that is clearly a consequence of considerable discipline and training. On one track, she sounds almost bird-like, while on another, she aggressively pounces forward with unbounded confidence. The music hardly fits any preconceived genre, but that is part of the joy. There are no melodies or any of the usual signposts, but the violinist eschews the commonplace without turning her back on the fundamentals. Oliver does not shy away from exploring the extremes of the strings, whether magnificently pursuing the upper registers or exploring radical harmonics. The recording time is disappointingly short, but the recording quality is more than adequate.

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