For many people, classical music conjures up images of prolonged, immersive movements which often require intense focus, deep musical knowledge, and a heavy dose of caffeine to fully grasp.
By contrast, Scott Wheeler’s Portraits and Tributes offers short pieces, with all but one shorter than your average radio edit. The one extended piece is written in tribute to Donald Berman, who offers his considerable talents as the pianist for this compilation.
As it is a mix of both written and spontaneous works, aspects of the compilation appear almost erratic. The portraits in particular are highly improvisational, even based on alphabetical spellings of people’s names. Artistically, though, it beautifully illustrates what Virgil Thomson noted,
“The discipline of spontaneity…is the hardest discipline of all.”
My personal favorite so far is track six, Cliff Walk, with its lush chords and playful melodies. It is reminiscent of a whimsical, meandering stroll down a sunny sidewalk, with feet that plod heavily onward, but still pause to tip toe along the cracks in the pavement.
Portraits and Tributes, (released 6/3/2016), will be accompanied by both a special record release concert on June 15th in Brooklyn, and a documentary,
Portraits: The Piano Music of Scott Wheeler by Fern R Lopez.
Physical copies are available from Bridge Records.