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Scott Wheeler (b.1952): Portraits & Tributes - Works for Piano / Donald Berman, piano

Album Summary

>Wheeler, Scott : Alphabet Dance, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Birthday Card for Tony, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Pseudo-Rag
>Wheeler, Scott : Bleecker Study, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Cowley Meditation, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Cliff Walk, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Life Study, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Epithalamion, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Morningside, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : By the Sea, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Calamity Rag, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Midnight Bells, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Firefly Lullaby, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Study in Concord, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Stone South, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : The Fifth of July, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Flow Chart, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Arietta, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Shimmer, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : To His Music, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Portrait of Steve, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Pastorale, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Cookie Waltz and Galop, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Sketching, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Island Lullaby, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Green Geese, for piano
>Wheeler, Scott : Free Ranging, for piano
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Composer Scott Wheeler writes that he has "always used the piano as a sketch pad, a place to explore ideas in twominute pieces that might turn up in other forms in larger works. Bach, Chopin, Shostakovich and others organized their small keyboard works systematically. Mine have just accumulated over the years, as I suspect is true for Grieg, Scarlatti, and my teacher Virgil Thomson. In fact, Virgil's particular version of the 'sketchbook' method of writing short pieces was to write musical portraits 'from life,' in the manner of his visual artist friends. I was myself a subject of one of Virgil's portraits, in 1981". Portraits and Tributes presents 27 of Wheeler's short works, performed by Donald Berman, a pianist much admired for championing new and little-known music of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015).



Reviews

Epigrammatic and enjoyable

"The piano is an instrument I play, sometimes in public, though hardly as a virtuoso or a recitalist." That's how Scott Wheeler begins his liner notes. As he explains, "I have always used the composer as a sketch pad, a place to explore ideas in two-minute pieces that might turn up in larger works."

The liner notes set the expectations for the listener -- this is indeed a collection of 27 very short piano pieces, only a few of which pass the 3-minute mark. But I think Wheeler is perhaps a little modest. I didn't hear anything rudimentary about the piano writing in any of these works.

I think there's enough meat here for most serious performers. And while they may be sketches, they all sounded like fully-realized self-contained miniatures. I didn't have to make any allowances for what I was hearing. To my ears, these all sounded like complete musical thoughts.

Most of the works are indeed musical sketches -- musical portraits of various people in Wheeler's life. And the music is as varied as the personalities they depict. "Pseudo-Rag: GS," written for Gunther Schuller filters ragtime music through a serialist filter, approaching Schuller's own musical style in sound (although perhaps leaning a little more towards the academic. By contrast, the "Calamity Rag," dedicated to a jazz piano scholar, is a more straight-forward (and tonal) interpretation of the Joplin style.

"By the Sea" for Stephen Sondheim reworks a melody from "Sweeney Todd," breaking it apart and reassembling it with pointillistic precision. "Epithalamion," a wedding present for pianist Donald Berman is a technically challenging post-tonal toccata with a klezmer melody folded into it.

Some of these compositions sound avant-garde and atonal, some sound aggressively modern, some neo-classical, some even are a little jazzy. But in my opinion, there's not a one that's not engaging and well-constructed. And the wide stylistic range of these pieces makes them work quite well together as a coherent program.

Donald Berman's thoughtful performances get the most out of the music. These may be short pieces, but they're by no means slight. This is a release you can either enjoy one piece at a time or all in one sitting. A thoroughly enjoyable release.

Submitted on 09/08/16 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Wheeler, Scott : Alphabet Dance, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1992

>Wheeler, Scott : Birthday Card for Tony, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1998

>Wheeler, Scott : Pseudo-Rag :: GS, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1985

>Wheeler, Scott : Bleecker Study, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2012

>Wheeler, Scott : Cowley Meditation, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>Wheeler, Scott : Cliff Walk, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2006

>Wheeler, Scott : Life Study, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2014

>Wheeler, Scott : Epithalamion, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1998

>Wheeler, Scott : Morningside, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2007

>Wheeler, Scott : By the Sea, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2013

>Wheeler, Scott : Calamity Rag, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Wheeler, Scott : Midnight Bells, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1998

>Wheeler, Scott : Firefly Lullaby, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1996

>Wheeler, Scott : Study in Concord, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2000

>Wheeler, Scott : Stone South, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>Wheeler, Scott : The Fifth of July, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2007

>Wheeler, Scott : Flow Chart, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1993

>Wheeler, Scott : Arietta, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2012

>Wheeler, Scott : Shimmer, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1998

>Wheeler, Scott : To His Music, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1999

>Wheeler, Scott : Portrait of Steve, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2013

>Wheeler, Scott : Pastorale, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 47 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1991

>Wheeler, Scott : Cookie Waltz and Galop, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1993

>Wheeler, Scott : Sketching, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1992

>Wheeler, Scott : Island Lullaby, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>Wheeler, Scott : Green Geese, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1977

>Wheeler, Scott : Free Ranging, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Notes: Granoff Music Center, Distler Hall, Tufts University (06/08/2015-06/10/2015)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1983