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(70:08, Zone Di Musica)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hubert Stuppner: Das Trinklied 3:11 2. Stefano Nanni: Kind of Earth 11:27 3. Simone Zanchini: Non Mahler 13:15 4. Achille Succi: Von der Schonheit 11:27 5. Giovanni Falzone: Around Mahler 13:25 6. Emilio Galante: Commiato 17:23 LINEUP: Giovanni Falzone trumpet Emilio Galante flute, piccolo Achille Succi clarinets, saxophone Simone Zanchini accordion Francesco Cusa drums Stefano Senni bass With: Tommaso Lonardi voice
Prolusion. The Italian project SONATA ISLANDS has been an ongoing entity for a good few number of years, a recording and performing ensemble where I understand that the constant member is composer and flutist Emilio Galante. They were formed as a camber ensemble back in the late 90's, have organized their own annual music festival starting in 2002, and as far as I know they have recorded three full length albums under this chosen project name. "Sonata Islands Meets Mahler" is the most recent of these, and was released through the Italian label Zone di Musica in 2013.
Analysis. The main premise of this production, as I understand it, is to celebrate the works of renowned composer Gustav Mahler, and his composition Das Lied von der Erde in particular. This is done by performing music inspired by this composition, material that partially consisst of composed music and partially by improvised sections. One of the targeted goals has been to cross the boundaries between written and improvised music. The end result is a rather intriguing one, and as this is a live recording, a fairly impressive one too. From the jubilant, joyful notes of opening composition Das Trinklied to the mournful landscapes of concluding creation Commiato we're taken on quite an interesting ride. The compositions tend to roam rather freely within a triangle consisting of jazz, folk and classical music, where brief details can shift the mood and feel from one to the other in the blink of an eye. Bass and drums are the main providers of the core jazz elements, with both careful and elaborate drum and and percussion patterns combined with the double bass used to good effect throughout to add emphasis to the jazz-oriented part of the compositions. The accordion caters for the majority of the folk music tinged details, adding what I'd describe as an Earthy presence to the proceedings, although a more textured and atypical approach is used on some occasion that gives the instrument a sound closer to the organ, used to add depth on a few select occasions. The flute adds its flighty presence in a manner that ranges between folk and classical oriented, depending on the mood explored at any given time, while the remaining instruments tend to shift back and forth between a classical-inspired and a jazz-oriented mode. The trumpet in particular is a distinct and audible presence for both of these. In between the various guises, moods and atmospheres conjured forth there's also set aside a liberal amount of time for standalone instrumental soloing, as one would expect from a performance that has been made with room for improvisations in mind. That we're also treated to some nice dual instrumental sections will probably strengthen the appeal of the audience for a production of this kind. That the recording quality is excellent too, as far as I can tell, is a further bonus for those who really enjoy to immerse themselves in music of a rather complex and challenging nature.
Conclusion. The Italian project Sonata Islands comes across as a high quality provider of complicated, challenging music that exists outside of the most common borders and categories with this recording. "Sonata Islands Meets Mahler" mainly alternates between a jazz oriented and a classical oriented expression, with room for sequences with a subtle but distinct folk music tinge to it, and explores the territories within this triangle in an intriguing and often unexpected manner. While fans of contemporary classical music and liberal minded jazz fans are probably the key audience for a production of this nature, I'd suspect that this is a CD that may be of interest also to those with an affection for chamber rock, RIO/Avant prog and similar types of music that seek to break down common boundaries and borders.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: August 16, 2014
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