Meandering River

The most fascinating compositions by Robert Morris, the current chair of the composition department at the Eastman School of Music, have been large-scale environmental works that allow listeners to wander through them on their own. A new album of his recent much-smaller scale chamber pieces, while not requiring good walking shoes, also invites listeners to find their own paths by offering music that while highly organized does not impose structures that clearly spell out a specific narrative. Meandering River, a sprawling atonal fifteen-minute solo piano work from 2001, takes as its point of departure the fifty types of six-note harmonies in the 12-tone equal tempered system. But rather than treating these fifty hexachords equally, as an old school integral serialist might have, Morris allows certain combinations to have prominence over others which gives listeners the ability to focus in on them with greater clarity.


—FJO