Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club

April, 2001


"Cracks and Shadows", Dave Wiesler and friends

Azalea City Recordings


Dave Wiesler describes his goals in making this CD: “Cracks and Shadows arose out of my desire to synthesize classical and folk elements in a way that honors both traditions equally.”  Dave, an excellent pianist, well-known in the Washington area, has an Enquiring Mind.  He wants to know: what happens when you mix English Country Dance music with neo-romantic classical with a little jazz? Scottish music with contra with baroque? Does Hillary Clinton really have a gay Martian Communist-spy Republican lover?

The answer (disregarding the last question, which we will never know the answer to unless I ask Elvis, who I saw at the grocery store yesterday) is definitely expressed in this eclectic and interesting CD.  All the tunes are written by Dave (who is, by the way, a PVSFC member.)  He has plenty of ideas; it’s delightful to hear his creative mind at work.  It doesn’t hurt that he enlisted the help of some excellent musicians: Andrea Hoag, Karen Ashbrook, Paul Oorts, Earl Gaddis, Ralph Gordon, and Susan Brandt.  On many of the tunes, he planned a general arrangement but let the musicians have some space to express themselves.

The result is a mix that from track to track, or sometimes within the space of eight bars, ranges from English Country dance, Scottish, and a little contra dance style, to a bit of New Age and jazz, and perhaps some other folk elements thrown in here and there. Classical music forms a backdrop in most of the tunes; some are arranged in almost a symphonic style, and but some are in a distinctly non-classical voice throughout.

This music mostly has its roots in dance music, but it’s really listening music.  As one Scottish dance teacher said, “There’s nothing on there that you can dance too!” That’s true; the arrangements are lush and complex, and well worth paying attention to.  There are quite a few ingenious moments where the unexpected happens, where tunes morph and kaleidoscope and build…it wouldn’t work for dancing, but who cares?

The only thing I didn’t like about this album was that Karen Ashbrook’s wonderful hammer dulcimer playing didn’t show up more often.  She has a way of using rhythm and accent to highlight and shape a tune that I find delightful….just my opinion!

This is an interesting, quirky, original and lovely CD.

– Julie Gorka