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TRACK LIST: 1. Total War 5:41 (Saglimbeni) 2. Remembrance 1:20 (Sgro) 3. The New Line's Hero 4:37 (Saglimbeni, Sgro) 4. Renegade 4:55 (Sgro) 5. Caled's Last Flight 4:02 (Saglimbeni, Sgro) 6. Reminiscence 1:13 (Sgro) 7. The Maid & the Willow 4:22 (Saglimbeni) 8. Dragon Lord 3:38 (=) 9. Lullaby 4:19 (=) 10. Spring's Dance 4:00 (=) 11. War Again 3:34 (Saglimbeni, Sgro) LINE-UP: Myriam Sagenwells Saglimbeni - - vocals; electric & acoustic guitars; 22-string harp Raymond "Remi" Sgro' - - keyboards & piano; flute & recorders; bass guitar Tina Vadala' - vocals; cymbals Roberto Mazza - drums Produced by Crystal Phoenix. Engineered by C. Cattero at "Electromantic Synergy", Italy.
Prolusion. The eponymous Crystal Phoenix debut output was released several years ago, and "The Legend of Two Stonedragons" (Twa Jorg-J-Draak Saga) is the second album by the band, which, by the way, is led by the female composer and multi-instrumentalist, Myriam Saglimbene. I think I should note that he work on the second part of this saga has already started.
Synopsis. This is a concept, somewhat sci-fi album, in which the story begins in the future and is over in the past. Correspondingly, the album is divided into two parts: The Future (tracks 1 to 6) and The Past (7 to 11). (The opening track Total War consists also of two parts, the first of which is short and features only the singing of a mixed choir and passages of Church organ. Later, I'll get back to this song again, but already in a general context.) Musically, these two parts are vastly different from each other, and only the two instrumental pieces here: Remembrance and Reminiscence (2 & 6), both 'from' The Future, have something in common with the contents of The Past. With the parts of a few acoustic instruments: piano, harpsichord, recorder, and flute as if dancing with each other, these two are much in the vein of music of Baroque. All the other tracks of The Future 'found' on the album: Total War, The New Line's Hero, Renegade, and Caled's Last Flight (1, 3, 4, & 5) were performed with a complete set of instruments listed above and present the varied: soft and intensive, dramatic and romantic, yet, always very tasteful and beautiful arrangements accompanied by operatic and 'simply' angelic vocals and vocalizes by Myriam and Tina. The style is a blend of Symphonic Progressive and Gothic Rock with elements of music of Baroque and, on a couple of tracks, the bits of Prog-Metal. With the exception of the second half of Dragon Lord (8), which is done in the style I've cited in the previous sentence, all the 'events' of The Past, while being still rather complex and mostly dramatic in character, are full of softness, warmth, and beauty. Of course, no 'electric' arrangements and a drum set here, in this kingdom of castles, manners, clear air, and acoustic instruments. In varied combinations, harp, flute, recorder, acoustic guitar and piano, as well as charming vocals of both divas, are present on all of the tracks here, and all of them are about something average between the chamber music of the Renaissance and that of Baroque with elements of opera and medieval folk music. Astonishing stuff! (Also, I often hear on the album something sounding not unlike a real violoncello, but since this instrument isn't credited in the CD booklet, it may be assumed that the performance capabilities of modern synthesizers became now really fantastic. Though it also may be the result of effective work with a library of samplers.)
Conclusion. An original and truly remarkable compositional thinking, a correct approach to working with the musical legacy of the past centuries, the expressiveness of rendering of the material - all of this makes the hero of this review worthy of collection of anyone into symphonic music in general.
VM: October 7, 2003
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