The Washington Post

Friday, April 13, 2001


DAVE WIESLER, "Cracks and Shadows"

Azalea City Recordings

Because pianist Dave Wiesler is too well versed in Celtic and English dance traditions to specialize in lulling music, "Cracks and Shadows" has a lot more to recommend it than just a series of lovely and soothing melodies.

Like a lot of New Age recordings, Wiesler's release borrows from classical and folk traditions, but what sets it apart from that sleep-inducing genre is a combination of strong rhythmic pulses and inspired interplay. Beginning with "Another Wild Place Lost Forever," which weds a contemplative melody to an engaging jig, Wiesler creates a series of interesting contrasts and strategies.


The piano-based arrangements take myriad forms, some reflecting Wiesler's great affection for marches, waltzes, reels, slip jigs, strathspeys and tangos, others revealing his classical bent and finesse. Yet somehow all of the tunes seem to fit together to create an enchanting mosaic of melody and rhythm.


Wiesler doesn't achieve this effect alone, however. His collaborators, who include fiddlers Andrea Hoag and Earl Gaddis, hammered dulcimer player Karen Ashbrook and guitarist Paul Oorts, are key to the music's abundant charm and vitality. Throughout the recording, in fact, the seasoned cast reaffirms Wiesler's view that the music on "Cracks and Shadows" constitutes "composition by committee in the best sense."


Mike Joyce


Appearing Saturday at Paint Branch Unitarian Church. To hear a free Sound Bite from Dave Wiesler, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8107. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)


2001 The Washington Post Company