Michael Pisaro: Sometimes CD review – US composer enjoys the silence

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Kate Molleson writes:

Wandelweiser music feels extra appealing at the moment. Maybe it’s because the grace and quiet, honest fragility is a tonic against shouty geopolitical absolutism. The US composer Michael Pisaro pinpoints his encounter with his Wandelweiser stylistic brethren in the early 1990s as the most decisive moment in his career: “This literally saved years of my compositional life.” The way Kunsu Shim, Antoine Beuger and Jürg Frey were thinking about silence and subtle gradation was right up his street and he joined their gentle ranks.

A piece such as Sometimes, the first of his 34-part Harmony Series, is typical of Pisaro’s intensely unhurried, quizzical house style. The score specifies only the durations and pauses between notes, so a lot of detail comes down to the performers. Here, the vocalist and three electronic musicians of Colectivo maDam pose warm-hued intervals like open questions. Pisaro says he hears the piece as “a (very long) song”, which makes the deep silences work like very long pauses for thought.

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