Morgan Evans-Weiler is an artist, violinist, and educator based in Boston, and his new work “Unfinished Variations” is dedicated to sound artist and fellow Bostonian Jed Speare. The recording comprises a single long piece for solo violin, though the use of chords and extended techniques often make it seem like there is more than one player (I don’t think overdubs are used). Evans-Weiler has performed with the likes of Sarah Hennies, Antoine Beuger, and Jürg Frey, and anyone approaching his solo work with expectations of a similar radical reductionism with a twist would be thinking along the right lines.
“Unfinished Variations” is divided into several different sections, each of which demonstrates a different approach or technique. There are variations on the classic experimental trope of chords separated by silence, playing with differences in volume, duration, and what I can only describe as ‘honk’. There’s also a section pairing a repeated tone on a steady pitch with a second that rises in close steps, sometimes stumbling back before climbing again, never getting too far away from its twin. The hardest variation to parse, I find, is the one that is almost completely inaudible: from the sofa I’m sometimes aware of a vague disturbance, which when putting my ear up against the speaker is revealed to be a very faint brushing, or perhaps even a gentle breathing, over the violin strings.
Some of the variations really catch the ear with their abrasive yet sharply defined surface, or with the afore-mentioned ‘honk’. I would’ve perhaps liked a slightly clearer structure to the piece, especially for a work of this length — this is an aspect that definitely feels somewhat unfinished. Regardless, “Unfinished Variations” will be of interest to anyone curious as to what the violin can do within particular sets of formal constraints.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/335813197″ params=”color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]