This post combines a collection of Italian artists working within and around the Modern Classical frameworks. The Italian scene which includes the likes of Stefano Guzzetti, Ludovico Einaudi and Fabrizio Paterlini is one of the richest and vibrant within this form of music. For further exploration check out this play list on Spotify.
The latest release on Lady Blunt Records comes from Eleuteria Arena under her eponymous name.
“A four-track digital EP, ‘In my Chest’ is an immersive, captivating experience. The music focuses on two elements only: cello and voice. The vocal layer becomes an instrument itself that perfectly dialogues with the cello, giving life to the expression of a sentiment that arises from deep inside and conveys a desire of freedom. A liberating act that comes right from the artist’s chest.
The EP contains the reworks of three classical pieces of Beethoven, Vivaldi and Satie and one original piece entitled In My Chest. It is with extreme care, awareness and sensitivity that Eleuteria reworks the music of some of the greatest composers of all times.”
Eleuteria certainly puts her own spin on this classical pieces rather than being a faithful “cover” (as if the concept of cover versions exist within the Classical music scene). Over the course of four tracks and fifteen minutes Arena utilises her two main talents – her cello and he voice to create pieces that sound very much contemporary and her own. Her voice, rather than being used to sing words is instead used as an instrument. Often layered it provides both the foreground and background in places for her minimal plucked and strung cello to weave it’s magic. Keeping to her strengths is a wise decision as it allows her to colour her pieces and put her own stamp on the material. Throughout the EP Arena manages to explore so much territory that you suspect that there is more than just voice and cello going on as is best evident in the “Theme from Symphony No.7” and in the minimalism of the title track. The Ep highlights Arena’s talent and shifts the music away from the sometimes tired and stuffy old classical sounds into something that is fresh, engaging, rewarding and very much enjoyable.
“In My Chest” is a digital release through Lady Blunt Records.
Following from his album “Frames”on Lady Blunt, Masotto finds a ‘home’ (pun intended) for his new album on New York studio and label Sonder House.
“‘Home’ is my sixth album and it is the first LP that I dedicate entirely to the piano. After years of experimentation I needed to go back to writing only for piano, which has always been my instrument. This new compositional need led me to create an album where I find sounds and harmonic textures that represent me deeply, in a very intimate way. For this reason I decided to name this album ‘Home’. For me it is a real homecoming.”
Lorenzo Masotto has appeared on these pages before with his “Aeolian Processes” and “White Materials” albums so it is great to see him here once more. As the press release above notes this album is a return to just piano and away from the electronics and experimentations of those other albums or the strings of his last album “Frames”. Instead we get a naked album of just a man behind his instrument conveying his thoughts and feelings through the eighty-eight keys.
Like the Olivia Belli album below, Masotto feels at home with his chosen instrument. There is a rawness to the recording which is not the same as those felt recordings that manage to capture all the creeks and sounds of the piano, pedals, hammers and keys. It may be the positioning of the microphones that maintains the level of rawness as well as a clearer sound of the piano, which occasionally gets lost on those recordings. A track like “Lux” feels like it would be at home in a large concert hall as it would at home.
A piece like “Forget” is one that I am a sucked for. I can just visualise Masotto almost serenely playing in deep concentration with his fingers gliding over the keys, his face showing slight twitches of emotion of the piece. The track had a granduer and a wanderlust about it which flows nicely as Masotto builds up the emotional content of the piece ever so nicely. While “Forget” evoked granduer “Earde” is a rather minimalist melancholic piece with consistent pacing and an ear for bringing out the more introspective moods that piano, other than Cello seem to be the only instruments that can truly demonstrate this feeling.
One of the things that occasionally bog down a Modern Classical solo piano record is the tendency to remain in a particular style or sound throughout. It can make for one dimensional records that even if you do like a certain piece your not going to want to her ten versions of it. Thankfully Masotto steers clear of this trap resulting in ten pieces that share a common thread (the piano and recording style), but each have a different feel and a different take – like the resonant finale “Steps” which nicely brings the collection to a close.
“Home” is an album for Masotto fans and those who like fine solo piano works. It is available digitally via Sonder House.
Olivia Belli returns to the blog after last appearing with her “Four Moons” release. This time around she finds herself on the Swedish label 1631 Recordings.
“”River Path was born in a precise place: the river that runs down the valley next to my home. Back from my excursions, I used to write down what I had perceived in a notebook of intimate music sketches. Little by little, those usual and necessary walks turned into a personal reflection on the magical and symbolic force of the river. A force that has always inspired all kinds of artists: eternal becoming, the existential journey, the path of one’s life…” – Olivia Belli
Like the Lorenzo Masotto release this is one that has an intimate close recorded sound bring to mind her “Where Night Never Comes” album although more closely recorded. Belli demonstrates her ability behind the piano on tracks such as “Rolling Pebbles”, Gleaming Flow” and “The River Passes, Yet The River Remains” with fast fingers fluttering over the keys. Her confidence behind the piano is noted, but the impact is lessened by the sound quality which is some what muted and when in full flight slightly shrill. Belli is clearly talented which is why she has been covered here twice before and the pieces show that, but unfortunately the sound lets down the release for me. I grew up listening to punk and hardcore, so I have become accustomed to raw recordings – those genres especially benefit from that style of recording. Maybe it’s because of the middle age I am in now that I sort of seek out a clearer more revealing sound. It’s a shame that while I like this album and I do, I crave for the clarity that is missing. Tracks like “The Circling Hawk” or “The Nymph’s Gaze” under pristine conditions would be revelatory, while the finale “The Estuary” would shine just that little bit more. That said, the more I listen to the album I do find myself appreciating it more. If the rawer approach is something that you like, then you will appreciate this album.
“River Path” is released on CD and Digital on February 28th.
Like Eleuteria Fabio Di Biase is a new name for me.
“My solo piano music springs from three different sources which all flow into my creations. Jazz, the rarefied language of the cinema and an inspiring muse, always present. That which surrounds us without our noticing it, that which we call nature. Ennio Morricone, Vangelis and John Williams who have given music to dreams, paintings and tracks in films. They are the people who made a mark on my experience in music.I wrote “Oceano” thinking about the quiet of its expanses of blue, to the wonders that are discovered in its depths. And my deepest thought goes to the great creatures that live it…”
You can definitely hear a jazz influence in Di Biase’s playing as it moves through styles and movements. Normally you don’t tend to hear such an influence in Modern Classical as the musicians either are classically trained or come from an electronic background. For the most part of the piece it is a tranquil and gently played aquatic themed piece, but you will hear some sounds and blocks of playing that is pure jazz piano in the way they are almost percussive in nature. By having these moments of jazz sounding piano in the piece it does change the nature of the piece and somewhat moves it away from what you feel is it’s intent. For some this may offer a different spin on things, but for others it would be a diversion. If I were to describe this piece it would be a Modern Classical influenced Jazz piano release. While the above Masotto album evoked home and concert hall performances, this one evokes a dark, smoky jazz club.
“Oceano” is available as a digital single.