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(50:16, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Introduzione 3:11 2. Il Giorno degli Azzimi 1:14 3. Ultima Cena 2:46 4. Il Pane e il Sangue dell'Alleanza 3:54 5. Getzemani 5:26 6. I Falsi Testimoni 2:41 7. Il Pianto 1:51 8. Il Rinnegamento di Pietro 2:46 9. Il Prezzo del Sangue 3:41 10. Giuda 1:05 11. Il Re del Giudei 1:54 12. Barabba 1:00 13. Toccata per Organo 2:29 14. Il Calvario 3:40 15. Aria della Croce 2:37 16. La Spartizione della Tunica 2:48 17. Dall'Ora Sesta all'Ora Nona 1:03 18. Il Velo del Tempio 2:17 19. Come un Ruscello Che 3:53 LINEUP: Marcello Giancarlo Dellacasa – guitars Oliviero Lacagnina – piano, keyboards Massimo Gori – bass; vocals Alfio Vitanza – drums; vocals With: GnuQuartet Choir Classe Mista &: A dozen of additional vocalists
Prolusion. The Italian band LATTE E MIELE is regarded as one of the classic progressive rock bands from the early 70's, and were one of the bands that were fairly heavily inspired by classical music, at least in their initial phase. By the time the band's activities ebbed out around 1980 they had transformed into more of a generic pop-rock band however, and one not all that popular at that. Latte E Miele reformed back in 2008, and in 2009 they released the critically acclaimed comeback album "Marco Polo Sogni E Viaggi". "Passio Secundum Matthaeum - The Complete Work" is their second full-length production following their comeback, and was released through the Italian label Black Widow Records in 2014.
Analysis. This CD is an album that falls into a niche category of productions. Those familiar with the band's history will recognize the main title of this album, as it is the same as their debut album from 1972. The subtitle, “The Complete Works”, indicates that this isn't merely a reissue, of course. It is not a reissue with added bonus tracks or in other manners issued in an extended version either. Instead, this is a remake of their first album. New recordings of their old album, extended with additional tracks, and when I compare the track list of this 2014 edition with the original album, it appears that the album has been rearranged fairly extensively too. Some compositions are shorter, other are longer, some appear to be missing altogether, at least as far as track titles go. It is, in short, a new album, a brand new version of their debut album from 1972. This CD does feature one original recording dating back to 1972 however, Toccata per Organo, although I don't know if this number was a part of the original album. As far as the type of music goes, this CD resides safely within the symphonic part of the progressive rock universe, with strong and distinct ties to classical music at that. The album is a passion, described on encyclopedia website Wikipedia as "a term for sung musical settings, normally at least partly choral, of the Gospel texts covering the Passion of Jesus, the events leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus, and emphasizing his suffering", in this case covering the gospel according to Matthew. Whether Latte E Miele are inspired by the liturgical music tradition here directly or if their original source of inspiration is Bach or some of the other well known composers that have created music in this tradition is a question to which I don't know the answer, but this album has strong ties to this tradition for sure. This is a powerful production, no matter where the sources of inspiration are located, though. The spoken word recitals add a sombre quality to the proceedings, sparingly and effective use of what appears to be Middle Eastern-inspired scales add a touch of the exotic to the atmosphere as well, and reminds us that the story explored is one that, indeed, took place in the Middle East. The use of choir in dominant vocal roles as well as in more subservient, atmospheric vocal backing obviously ties this production into the tradition previously described, and also gives the songs a distinct and sacral character, often a majestic one at that. The music itself ranges from light-toned and frail, acoustic passages with acoustic guitar, piano and fairly often harpsichord as the sole instruments to forceful, dark and ominous sequences sporting organ, guitar bass, drums, string quartet and choir. The different parts tend to alternate between at least to defined, different sounding main themes, and in the case of the longer passages also with intermediate or transitional phases. Violin and cello are fairly constant elements, for the former often in plural, and while organ and keyboards tend to alternate, the piano is more of a permanent fixture. Occasionally, we're treated to what one might describe as a blend of classical music and harder edged rock music, these movements generally of a more forceful nature, but more often elements from both traditions are explored in different variations. All of them tastefully arranged, the more tranquil passages emotional and sophisticated constructions with plenty of subtle details to enjoy, while the most dramatic sequences tend to tone down the most dramatic details so that they don't dominate too extensively, leaving room for the subtler details to be noticed also in these arrangements. By and large, this is an impressive production. You will need a certain affection for this specific variety of music obviously, and a positive attitude to Christian religious beliefs is probably an advantage too, but all in all, this is an excellent recording from the get go until the final notes ebbs out.
Conclusion. Latte E Miele's remake of their debut album "Passio Secundum Matthaeum" is an impressive production through and through, a tasteful and sophisticated album that has been assembled with a lot of care and affection and what appears to be a minute attention to details. A certain taste for material inspired by liturgical classical music is probably needed to truly enjoy all the qualities of this CD, but if you have a general taste for symphonic progressive rock of the kind that has a fairly close relation to classical music then this is an album that is easily and highly recommended.
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