Reviews. Ensemble

A Closer Listen (January 12nd, 2016)

One look at Stefano Guzzetti’s Ensemble and one is hooked. The cover offers a perfect blend of stunning photography and evocative typesetting. The letter & looks like an ampersand, serving as a symbol for the ensemble. This is a different sort of sea ~ a bit more active, befitting the music, as one can intuit in the crashing waves. The original small-run CD release (Stella Recordings) included elaborate packaging and has sold out, but an equally elaborate vinyl edition is still available with different art. The titles indicate a love of the warmer months: All our days, Kite, You and the stars, Endless summer. If Cordero’s release is relaxing, Guzzetti’s is playful. As early as Scusa, the quartet (Guzzetti on piano, Simone Soro on violin, Giulia Dessy on viola and Gianluca Pischedda on cello) come out to frolic, with beach toys and colourful suits. While the pace slows for Womb, it’s only for a moment. Ensemble is the active sea, inviting bodysurfing and jet skiing, the reminder of a different blessing: joy. The string rush in the final minute of All our days provides a perfect distillation, while The road to you explores the season’s romantic aspects. The album’s most active piece, Escape, provides the drama of winter wishes. While we might not be able to escape to the sea in January, our minds can still wander to that beautiful place. (Richard Allen)

Spellbinding Music (September 4th, 2015)
Having worked extensively on electronic and ambient soundscapes in previous projects, modern classical Italian pianist Stefano Guzzetti has signalled a renewed interest for a more simple and acoustic sound in recent times. Releasing his first solo piano collection “At Home. Piano Book Volume One” on Home Normal in 2014, the musician has now joined forces with a string ensemble to perform his music to a live audience. ‘This is the way I prefer to play live’ says Guzzetti whose ensemble includes himself on piano, Simone Soro on violin, Giulia Dessy on viola and Gianluca Pischedda on cello. Coinciding with the launch of his own imprint Stella Recordings and to capture the studio counterpart to his live set, the Sardinia-based pianist has released Ensemble on 22nd July 2015 last. With the exception of the last track Nana (comp. Manuel de Falla), all songs on the record are composed by the pianist and are curated from the musician previous recordings, his solo album, his soundtracks or his Waves on Canvas project. The string arrangements add wonderful texture and depth to Guzzetti’s short vignettes. All our days, Harvest, Pluvieux or Loin to name but a few are simply gorgeous and touching themes, all exhibiting undeniable cinematic qualities and the concision of every track demands repeated listening. Clocking at a short minute and thirty eight seconds, Feather, one of the highlights of Ensemble, could well have been expanded and arranged into a much longer suite. However, the brevity of the song seems to pack a stronger emotional punch. Ensemble is available from all digital platforms and to reflect the live and handcrafted nature of the music, the album was first released as a handmade deluxe limited edition of 250 numbered CDs inside a hammered ivory cardboard sleeve with a six-page booklet and two postcards. And on 22nd September 2015 next, the record will be released as a 200 Vinyl 2LP limited edition on Brooklyn Bridge Records with cover artwork by Shinro Ohtake. (Guillaume)

Rockerilla (n.421 – Settembre 2015)

Un lato che solitamente non si mette in luce quando si tenta una recensione, riguarda l’artista stesso. In questo caso si può assolutamente dire che le note offerte all’ascolto nell’ultimo lavoro del compositore sardo ben rappresentano la persona che le ha scritte. Fresco di firma presso la Mute Records, un lungo percorso legato da prima al suono elettronico, poi via via sempre più stemperato lungo sonorità  che meglio rappresentano la sua vera anima di compositore, Guzzetti affascina con il suo tocco classico che ha l’apparenza del deja  vu oggi alla moda ma che è assai più vicino alla serietà  di un Max Richter o di Johann Johannsson. Soavità  senza tempo. (Mirco Salvadori)

Textura (August 22nd, 2015)

Stefano Guzzetti’s music is heavily melodic, regardless of whether it’s presented in the form of solo piano arrangements or as chamber works. Exquisite examples of the former are featured on the Sardinian composer’s 2014 Home Normal release “At Home. Piano Book Volume One”, while no less than seventeen samplings of the latter make up “Ensemble”. Issued on his own Stella Recordings in a hand-made edition of 250 copies, the fifty-seven-minute recording is a studio version of the concert set the pianist performs with the other members of his ensemble, violinist Simone Soro, violist Giulia Dessy, and cellist Gianluca Pischedda. It’s impossible to listen to Ensemble without hearing echoes of Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Yann Tiersen in Guzzetti’s compositions, though that’s hardly a crippling indictment of the album. It would be difficult to imagine any living, classically trained composer who writes original works and soundtracks to not have been exposed to the work of such figures and influenced by them. The Glass presence is audible in the opening seconds of “Scusa” but once the detail’s registered the music carries the listener away, especially when Guzzetti’s piano is joined by the lyrical expressiveness of his string partners. “All Our Days” is so reminiscent of Tiersen’s style it could pass for a composition by the Amelie soundtrack composer, though again the material is so entrancing one quickly engages directly with the music rather than fixating on issues of influence. Ultimately it’s Guzzetti’s voice that remains when this melodious collection reaches its end. Aside from it being a collection rich in mood, Ensemble is also appealing for its concision. None of the pieces pushes past the five-minute mark, and the shortest checks in at a minute-and-a-half. Yet the pieces never feel truncated; instead, one comes away impressed by Guzzetti’s ability to convey the essence of each composition with dispatch. Though his piano is the core instrument, the strings significantly deepen the music’s emotional impact (Soro’s playing considerably elevates “Loin” for example), and as one would expect from a recording featuring so many compositions, the emotional terrain covered is extensive, with some settings wistful and melancholy and others breezy, uplifting, and light-hearted. The recording reaches a particularly passionate height within “Pluvieux” but it’s hardly the only moment of its kind on the recording, and pretty miniatures such as “You and the Stars” and “Endless Summer” are in plentiful supply. All of the compositions are by Guzzetti with one exception, a graceful cover version of Manuel de Falla’s “Nana” (from Seven Popular Songs). Admittedly, Guzzetti is no Schoenberg-like revolutionary, there’s little in Guzzetti’s romantic composing style that aspires to advance the classical genre in radical new manner, but material of such rich harmonious and melodic quality requires little argument in its defence than the music itself. (Ron Schepper)

Music Won’t Save You (22 Luglio 2015)

Come il suo stesso titolo lasciava intuire, per Stefano Guzzetti la pubblicazione a proprio nome di “At Home. Piano Book Volume One” non era una semplice parentesi dalle elaborazioni elettroniche di Waves On Canvas all’insegna di essenziali bozzetti pianistici. L’artista e compositore sardo ha infatti trovato sui tasti del pianoforte una dimensione intima, dagli spiccati contenuti emozionali, tuttavia niente affatto antitetica rispetto al suo profilo elettronico-sperimentale; quella (ri)scoperta dimostra, poco più di un anno dopo, di rappresentare un significativo punto di partenza, reso emblematico dall’avvio della sua nuova etichetta, Stella Recordings, celebrata con la realizzazione del suo nuovo lavoro. Altrettanto intuitivo ne è il titolo, “Ensemble”, che suggella il desiderio di Guzzetti di articolare maggiormente i propri istinti compositivi, senza sconfessarne l’accurata misuratezza ma amplificandone il linguaggio, appunto, a un ensemble che oltre al pianoforte comprende un terzetto d’archi. Il pur spoglio contesto cameristico, privo di effetti e risonanze diversi da quelli dello spazio di registrazione, esalta l’ampiezza di respiro delle composizioni di Guzzetti, ora più che mai artefice di una sequenza di pièce dagli spiccati contenuti cinematico-descrittivi. Che si tratti di scorrevoli incastri armonici, graduali progressioni sulle ali degli archi o di melodie dalle dinamiche pronunciate, nella galleria di diciassette toccanti istantanee in musica di “Ensemble” non vi sono cali di tensione emotiva nè passaggi in qualche misura prolissi. Tutto è concentrato in brani che solo in pochi casi superano i quattro minuti di durata, non una nota dei quali appare fuori posto, nè uno snodo compositivo ridondante: pianoforte e archi dialogano invece con estrema naturalezza, plasmando di volta in volta riflessivi scenari notturni e palpitanti flussi armonici dalle calde cadenze mediterranee. Dai brani di Guzzetti continua infatti a promanare, a prescindere dalla forma che assumono, un forte radicamento alla sua terra e alle suggestioni da essa offerte, adesso incanalate in contesto cameristico che permette di sbocciare compiutamente alle sue doti di compositore non solo moderno e versatile, ma soprattutto capace di incarnare con naturalezza un ampio ventaglio di sensazioni. (Raffaello Russo)

Stationary Travels (July 19th, 2015)

The latest full length album by composer, producer and sound designer Stefano Guzzetti marks the launch of his new personal imprint, Stella Recordings, and captures music from his previous solo albums, compilation singles, and soundtracks in the setting he prefers to perform live a four piece ensemble. The group consists of Guzzetti himself on piano and electronics along with Simone Soro on violin, Giulia Dessy on viola, and Gianluca Pischedda on cello. “Ensemble is the studio counterpart to our live set. In response to repeated requests from audience members for a CD we decided to make a straight forward and true recording of our material: no overdubs, the same arrangements, just the four of us playing our parts. Consider it a sort of virtual concert, or a simple memory of what you’ve experienced.” This is a sumptuous recording of generous length that comes beautifully packaged as well. It is easy to see why audiences were so receptive to this format. The ensemble adds a welcome expansiveness to Guzzetti’s lovely compositions while retaining a warm intimacy and elegance thanks to their impeccable musicianship and telepathic understanding. “Scusa”, which opens the album, instantly spellbinds with its wistful beauty and introduces a lavish collection comprised of sixteen pieces, some of which are reflective and melancholic while others are vivacious, even cinematic. Each listener will no doubt have their own favorites, but tracks I particularly enjoyed included “Feather”, where the unison of the strings is simply sublime, along with the back-to-back renditions of “Harvest”and “Pluvieux” from Guzzetti’s Piano Book Volume One, given added color an life by the full ensemble. As a bonus track, the album includes the ensemble’s respectful and moving interpretation of “Nana” by the distinguished Spanish composer Manuel de Falla (1876-1946). Ensemble comes in a glass master CD with two postcards, a six page booklet, a download code, and additional contents (digital booklet, more photographs by Fiorella Sanna, and the scores to four tracks). Everything is inside a hammered ivory cardboard which is bound and sealed in original Japanese vinyl-replica-cd pvc bags, each one being hand numbered. Note: Limited to 250 copies which will be in short supply by the time this is published.  (Brian Housman)

%d blogger hanno fatto clic su Mi Piace per questo: