Michael Pisaro - Melody, Silence (for guitar solo). Cristián Alvear. Melody, Silence is a collection of materials for solo guitarist, written by Michael Pisaro in 2011. There are up to 12 fragments (or pieces) which can be played in any order and which allow for various transformations, cuts, extensions and silences. Cristián Alvear developed his own version over a period of several months in 2014. This chilean guitarist has been focusing on contemporary and experimental music, in particular on minimalism and Wandelweiser works. Recorded in july 2014.
"A stunning recording though what to say, how to describe beyond the piece's basic structure...difficult. Pisaro writes, "There are up to 12 fragments (or pieces) which can be played in any order and which allow for various transformations, cuts, extensions and silences. Each guitarist makes their own version." So clearly, the credit for the work's success is pretty evenly distributed and, of course, I'd love to hear other versions. But from what I've heard previously from Alvear, my guess is that his realization (on acoustic guitar, by the way) will be one of the strongest.
The twelve sections seem to fall into one of three types: quiet, melodic, "traditional" playing, drones and silences. As I chart it, the sequence here is M-D-D-M-S-M-S-D-S-M-D-M, with each section lasting between three and five minutes. The melodic sequences vary slightly from each other though all are quiet. They also have a certain rhythm, though very slow. The "melodies" range from slightly sour near the beginning to a very tonal, almost processional feel in the final episode--each one is crystalline and beautiful on its own, clearly and profoundly played by Alvear. The drones, achieved I assume via ebow or similar device, are also fascinating, varying both inherently (though super-subtly) and in one's listening environment when shifting one's head. The three silences last about three, two and four minutes and, as ever in fine realizations of Pisaro's music, are superbly placed, pools of contemplation.
Everything is laid bare, even stripped, the disrobing revealing a pure, taut and sensual skeleton. Like some object, maybe an old pine cone, simple and complex, examined from three angles, each opening a different history of the cone though each, of necessity, connected to and part of the other. Very hard to describe except to say we're fortunate to have yet another fantastic example of Pisaro's conception, exceptionally realized by Alvear. An absolute must for anyone interested in this area of music, truly beautiful." (Just Outside)