2017. Pastel Records (Japan)

Stefano Guzzetti「Leaf」~華麗でもなく、優美さとも違う、ただただ真摯に自身と向き合う、穏やかでぬくもりのあるメロディー
背後に虫か動物かの鳴き声が聞こえる。そして何か意を決したかのように、Stefano Guzzettiのピアノが始まる。それは華麗でもなく、優美さでもなく、ただただ何かを刻み込むような、淡々としながらも、どこか或る日を慈しむような、そんな佇まい…。

イタリア・サルデーニャ島の作曲家/ピアニスト、Stefano Guzzetti(ステファノ・グッツェッテイ)。彼は、2012年にアイルランドのPsychonavigationより、Waves on Canvasという名義で『Into the Northsea』という作品をリリースしているのが本格的なデビュー作です。Waves on Canvasは、現在のポストクラシカルなスタイルとは違った、エレクトロニカ作品なんですが、この作品の1、2曲目だけ、今に通じるピアノをメインとしたインストゥルメンタル曲が入っていて、ステファノ・グッツェッテイのピアノスタイルはこの時点で結構固まっているんだなと感じます。
その後、2014年にHome Normalより、家で録りためたソロ・ピアノ曲を集めた作品『At Home – Piano Book (Volume One)』をリリース。また、2015年には、自身のレーベルStella Recordingsを立ち上げ、ライヴレコーディング作品「Ensemble」と積極的なリリースを重ねています。いずれの作品も即完売に近い人気で、今、密かに期待されている旬な音楽家の一人でもあります。ちなみに個人的に大好きな、Ian M HazeldineによるプロジェクトAntonymesの今年4月に発売されるニュー・アルバム「(for now we see)theough a glass dimly」のクレジットに、彼の名前があってこれまた密かに期待しているところなのです。
そして最新作「Leaf」を発表。ある一定の期間、コンスタントにリリースを重ねる人には、何か勢い以外の確かな成熟度と説得力を作品から感じますが、ステファノ・グッツェッテイもまさにそんな魅力が「Leaf」から伝わってきます。ライヴレコーディング作「Ensemble」に続き、ヴァイオリンのSimone Soro、チェロのGianluca Pischedda、そこに、ヴィオラのFrancesco Piliaと、リーダー作もリリースしているダブルベースのSebastiano Dessanay、そしてクラリネットでLorenzo Baldoniが参加。Sebastiano Dessanay以外のメンバーは、Nils Frahmの「Screws Reworked」のレコーディングにもかかわっています。
ライヴ録音の前作とはまた違った、スタジオ録音による弦楽器やクラリネットによるアンサンブルや、ステファノ・グッツェッテイによる フィールドレコーディング、わずかなエフェクトを用い、淡い間に包まれる繊細な心模様を引き出している。この作品の楽曲は、ステファノ・グッツェッテイの父が突然パーキンソン病にかかったことをきっかけに書かれ、だれしもの生活でもっとも身近にみられる「葉」にインスパイアされ作られたものだそう。”遠くからみればちいさな緑のかけらにすぎない葉は、長い長い人生におけるただの1日のようなもの。しかし、ひとたび近づいて注意を払いさえすれば、複雑な内なる構造をもったより広い世界が目に飛び込んでくる。自然の計略には決してかなわない。わたしたち人間は結局は葉のように繊細でちっぽけなものだということ・・・。”(インパートメントHPより引用)
それは何かを諦めるという観念のようにも捉えられるかもしれないし、逆にステファノ・グッツェッテイの持つ繊細な機微を感じ取り、自然を偽らず、寄り添うことで、生かされている自身がある、ということをどこか感謝の念を持ってメロディーにしたためているようにも感じます。ただ、それを高らかに表現するようなピアノを彼は弾くことなく、ただ、ゆっくりと鍵盤に思いを刻んでいる。そのスタイルはどこか彼の不器用なあたたかさ(もちろん技術がないというわけでは決してない)をより感じてしまう。その反面、周りの楽器が、ステファノ・グッツェッテイの感情をそっと代弁するように優しく包み込むようにも聴こえる。その旋律は、メランコリックでありながらも重苦しさは感じず、ぬくもりのある、とても居心地の良いものなのです。
ちなみに、今回、印象的なイラストレーションによるミュージックビデオが作られています。担当しているのが、Gianluca Marjani Marrasという人。ちょっと調べてみると、2015年に、イタリア人シンガーソングライターのMatteo Sauの「Qualche giorno dopo la luna」というミュージックビデオを作っています。で、この作品で、プロデュース、アレンジを担当しているのが、Stefano Guzzettiなんですね。

2017 01 24. Indie Rock Mag
Si cela fait déjà quelques années que l’Italien publie des disques mêlant piano néo-classique et ambient chez Home Normal, feu Twisted Tree Line ou son propre label Stella Recordings, il ne se sera réellement révélé à nous que l’année passée via deux œuvres majeures. D’un côté Escape (Music For A Ballet) composé pour une performance de danse aérienne de la compagnie londonienne LCP Dance Theatre et dont les orchestrations de cordes, de vents et de glockenspiel trouvent un souffle inédit dans l’apport des beats électroniques, entre deux romances plus méditatives et mélancoliques centrées sur les cordes ou sur le piano. Et puis surtout, il y aura eu ce Leaf, parcours de vie fait de quiétude, de difficultés et d’espoirs, de beautés éphèmères et d’une certaine tristesse sous-jacente face à la fragilité de l’existence, d’envolées épurées en piano majeur (All our Days) ou mineur (Saliva) dont la parfaite balance des sentiments évoque l’Islandais Ólafur Arnalds, et d’imprécations lancinantes auprès des forces qui semblent nous avoir abandonnés à notre triste condition, comme sur le violoneux Psalm in A Minor pas loin des élans spirituels tourmentés de Max Richter. Un album dont la pochette, peinture italienne inversée, laisse entrevoir les libertés que prend Stefano Guzzetti avec son background de piano classique, osant un lyrisme violon/violoncelle aussi chaleureux que douloureux comme en est capable Joe Hisaishi sur Mother ou Waiting – ou piano/cordes sur Shoreline, voire sur un Feather qui évoque la BO de L’été de Kikujiro. Depuis le souffle primordial d’un Womb réconfortant dont les harmonies de clarinette et de violon, comme plus loin sur l’inquiet Sospesa, font penser de loin à Michael Nyman jusqu’à While You Sleep dont la douce dramaturgie des cordes frottées doublée de glockenspiel et piano cristallins n’est pas sans rappeler Carter Burwell, cette influence cinématographique irrigue le plus gros du disque, mais les incursions classical ambient de Quiet Fracture ou Silently Leaving, moments de recueillement bienvenus dans ce flot d’émotions à fleur de peau, ne laissent aucun doute sur le fait qu’Home Normal était bien un havre de choix pour cette fable musicale d’une infinie sensiblilité. (original article here)

Sound Thread (January 29th, 2017)
Sardinian composer, producer and sound designer Stefano Guzzetti recently released the deluxe vinyl edition of his album Leaf (Brooklyn Bridge Records), a moving collection of instrumental compositions presented with intricate, classical piano and lush string arrangements. I first heard Stefano’s music in 2012 when he launched his Waves on Canvas project with the impressive “Into the Northsea” album, on which he collaborated with vocalist Louise Rutkowski (This Mortal Coil), Pieter Nooten (Clan of Xymox), and Ian Masters (Pale Saints) among others. The track, “Angel”, with beautiful vocals from Louise Rutkowski, revived and continued the ethereal atmosphere, melody and style that 4AD Records’ This Mortal Coil and The Hope Blister projects had created several years earlier.  Stefano has since released several magnificent albums under his own name, including At Home, Piano Book (Volume 1) (2014), Ensemble (2015), Waiting for Spring (2016), and Escape (music for a ballet) (2016). Leaf is an outstanding collection of thirteen songs that is splendidly sequenced – this is one of those albums you should listen to in its entirety in order to absorb the atmosphere and intended progression of emotion from track to track. In the liner notes, Stefano thanks 4AD Records founder Ivo Watts-Russell for “sequencing this album in such a beautiful way”. And I wholeheartedly agree. “All Our Days” is my favorite track on the album. This is one of those songs that you could imagine appearing on a movie soundtrack – the one that’s being played as the actor is called up to the stage to receive their Golden Globe award for their performance. This timeless, uplifting, yet contemplative song showcases Stefano’s piano-playing and composition skills at their finest. “Psalm in A Minor” is presented on this release of Leaf as Stefano intended it to be – incorporating spoken word sound clips from German philosopher Erich Fromm: ‘The less you are and the less you express your life, the more you have and the greater your alienated life. What is superior, things or life?’ “Mother” is an absolutely beautiful string-driven song with its moving cello intro. This sounds like a lost track from This Mortal Coil’s “Blood” album. Other standout tracks include “Saliva” and “To the end”. The latter is the perfect ending to this album, carried by piano with beautiful cello and string arrangements (a la Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”). The song slowly and gently ends, just as gracefully as the opening track “Womb” introduced the listener to the beautiful intricacies, simplicity and beauty that Leaf offers. In addition to the music itself, the artwork for the deluxe vinyl edition of Leaf was created by legendary graphic designer Vaughan Oliver (v23) who gifted the indie world with his outstanding, creative artwork for most of 4AD Records’ releases throughout the years. One could consider the vinyl edition of Leaf to be a work of art in itself – featuring a 180g 12″ vinyl record, a 10″ booklet and the compact disc. For more information about Stefano Guzzetti, follow him on Facebook, Instagram, listen to his music on Bandcamp and Spotify, and check out his official website. (Tom Homulka)

Stationary Travels (December 21st, 2016)

Another release not to be missed is Leaf which Guzzetti actually composed in the first half of 2014 and was mastered by Ian Hawgood (Home Normal) in 2015 before seeing a Japanese-only release at the start of the year. This was followed in March by an edition with completely new design by Vaughan Oliver and Ivan Katsarov and featuring lavish artwork by Claudia Pomowski. Absent of percussion and electronics, Leaf is a more romantic and effusive affair, a gorgeous collection that should captivate any fan of modern classical music from start to finish. The middle sequence of “Mother”, “Shoreline”, and “Feather” is especially sublime. Leaf comes in an elaborate vinyl-replica gatefold CD edition featuring artwork by renowned British graphic designer Vaughan Oliver. (note: the album also saw an earlier release exclusive to Japan via P*Dis). (Brian Housman)

Headphone Commute (August 5th, 2016)
Sometimes modern classical music is difficult to write about. Take away the descriptions of the closely mic’d piano, the elemental background of the violins, the pensive pace and melancholy mood, and you are left with just… music. Music that at some point was born inside musician’s mind, and slowly stewed and burned until it had to be put down in notes, and played through hands and keys and strings and hammers. And yet, each piece is not the same; each artist a unique representation of their world, captured through the intricate details of what makes up their life, however brief, however poignant. What then is music if not the bare essence of the artist’s soul, the very depth of which they choose to open? And in this space, that we together share, as a performer and a listener, we actively let go, and drown… Sardinia (Italy) based composer, Stefano Guzzetti, made a brief appearance on my radar back in 2014, when Ian Hawgood’s Home Normal label released his At Home. Piano Book Volume 1 debut. Alas, the second volume never arrived, but Guzzetti continued to publish music on his very own Stella Recordings: see Ensemble (2015) and 春を待っています (2016). This year, after a brief appearance on Home Normal’s 050316 compilation, documenting the concert series based in the UK (which he shares with Christoph Berg, Danny Norbury and Ian Hawgood himself), Guzzetti releases Leaf.

“Seen from a distance, a leaf is just a little piece of green; small and unrelevant like one of the thousands days of an entire life. But if we get closer and pay more attention, a bigger world will disclose to us, revealing inner structures and paths, some wider and strong, some others thin and frail. Like our everydays actions and events we stumble on. Everything could happen in a sudden, making us realize we’re nothing compared to nature’s plans. In the end we’re little delicate things. Like leaves.”

Accompanied by the violinist Simone Soro, violist Francesco Pilia, and cellist Gianluca Pischedda, as well as Sebastiano Dessanay on the double bass and Lorenzo Baldoni on the clarinet, Guzzetti weaves a neo classical score of cinematic beauty. Leaf is less solemn that some of the contemporary recordings of solo piano, chamber, and modern classical pieces, and is at times uplifting in its major scale, creating a beautiful soundtrack for a sunny Sunday morning (as opposed to rainy Monday nights). Add to that the concept described in the quote above, and one begins to view the world (and hear the music) through a slightly different lens of being. The overall feeling that stays long after the music is gone is that of impermanence, scale, and ultimately perspective on all the things around us (and inside us), and yet it’s not entirely a sad affair, but rather that of peace and hope. If this is your first exposure to Guzzetti, get used to seeing his name. With Leaf, he signs a publishing deal with Mute Song Ltd., this album being released in Japan by P*Dis / Inpartmaint Inc. and the EU and US editions by Stella and digital by Home Normal. Guzzetti has also recently released a new single on 1631 Recordings, titled The Kiss, which has been featured on the new Piano Cloud Series – Volume Two compilation along with Federico Albanese, Clem Leek, Antonymes, Sophie Hutchings and yours truly (*blush*). Outside of my slightly partial interest to introduce you to the many artist I share the catalog with, I feel that you will truly enjoy this gem once it enters your ears, and finally your soul.
(Mike Lazarev)

Textura (April, 2016)
As exquisite as Stefano Guzzetti’s last release, 2015’s Ensemble (Stella Recordings), is, Leaf might be even more so; it certainly captures the pianist-composer’s music having reached an extremely high level of refinement. The approach on Leaf, which he wrote and produced over a five-month stretch in early 2014, isn’t radically different from that taken on the earlier collection: the pianist, also credited with glockenspiel, field recordings, and sine waves, is accompanied by a string trio—violinist Simone Soro, violist Francesco Pilia, and cellist Gianluca Pischedda—plus clarinetist Lorenzo Baldoni and double bassist Sebastiano Dessanay on thirteen concise settings strong on appeal. As direct as the music is the concept underpinning the work, the idea that the leaves on the trees, being so omnipresent and ubiquitous, tend to recede from view yet when studied up close mesmerize with intricate webs of detail. The not-so-subtle point is that attention is key, and mindfulness and humility, too. Of course, no pondering of such ideas is necessary for the music to be enjoyed; Guzzetti’s sensual soundworld offers no shortage of pleasure to the listener hungry for accessible chamber classical music. Appropriately the album begins with the composer’s elegiac piano heard against a backdrop of bird chatter, prompting one to visualize a leafy nature setting. On a typical track, Guzzetti’s piano acts as the melodic nucleus around which the other instruments cluster, whether it be strings, clarinet, or glockenspiel. “Psalm in A minor” effectively highlights his estimable talents as an arranger in the way it offsets the strings with the contrasting timbres of the clarinet and double bass. “Mother,” on the other hand, stands out for largely restricting its plaintive material to strings, piano reduced to accents only. While there’s nothing to indicate it’s intended as such, “All Our Days” could easily pass for a homage by the composer to Yann Tiersen, so emblematic are its chiming piano patterns of the latter’s style. Being so melodically strong, Guzzetti’s music holds up perfectly well without embellishment; consequently, the modest number of instrumental voices featured in these chamber arrangements is all that’s required to convey the essence of his compositional style, and though electronic treatments surface in a couple of places (e.g., “Silently Leaving,” with its pronounced reverberation effects), the album rarely strays from its acoustic presentation. Abundantly melodic and generally sweetly melancholic in temperament, Guzzetti’s luscious music envelops the listener in folds of elegance on this consistently satisfying forty-seven-minute outing.

SoWhat (8 marzo 2016)
Melodie intime che disegnano tenui bozzetti primaverili, in bilico tra un’accogliente luminosità e un nostalgico romanticismo compongono il nuovo lavoro di Stefano Guzzetti, pubblicato dalla sua etichetta Stella Recordings (in versione cd), in collaborazione con la label belga Brooklyn Bridge Records (che stamperà la versione in vinile) e la Home Normal (per la versione digitale). Dismesso lo pseudonimo Waves On Canvas e con esso la sua dimensione elettronica, il musicista sardo continua a tracciare il suo nuovo percorso artistico all’insegna di un pianismo emozionale che sempre più trova la sua naturale completezza in una coralità che ne esalta le doti compositive. Le note del suo strumento tendono a scorrere leggere disegnando fluide trame dinamiche che si fondono alla perfezione alle preziose tessiture degli archi, creando le atmosfere quieti e avvolgenti che caratterizzano brani quali “While you sleep”, “Shoreline” e “Saliva” e che a tratti virano verso un maggiore senso di rarefazione (“Feather”, “To the end”) dando vita a momenti di toccante lirismo che trovano l’apice nella cristallina e bellezza di “Silently leaving”. Non mancano passaggi più grevi, permeati da una marcata e struggente malinconia in cui gli archi salgono in cattedra divenendo assoluti protagonisti (“Psalm in A Minor”, “Mother”). I suoni sintetici e le riprese ambientali restano presenti come corollario che emerge sporadicamente a rifinire le preziose e vivide istantanee impressionistiche ma ricche di dettagli, che compongono il suggestivo universo di “Leaf”. (Peppe Trotta)

A Closer Listen (March 4th, 2016)
Mere months after the review of Stefano Guzzetti‘s last album comes the review of another, this one more springlike in nature but no less lovely. As the birds precede the piano, and the piano precedes the strings, so do the strings precede the warmer weather that many are yearning to enjoy. A concert tour featuring many related artists also accompanies the release. Guzzetti’s orchestral compositions sway in the breeze like thin branches waiting for buds to bloom. At the end of “Womb,” a dog shakes its leash, ready to go outside. The glockenspiel of “While you sleep” introduces an even brighter timbre, offset by the mature entrance of the cello: like the same dog seeking to dart around the park, restrained by the steering (yet wise) voice of its master. “Saliva” is particularly sweet, colored by the clarinet of Lorenzo Baldoni, which withdraws mid-piece along with the strings to allow the piano to guide the listener gracefully to its conclusion. For the most part the album flows well ~ the liner notes even thank the sequencer. Yet there are still a few incongruences. The first is a battle of themes, as the album title seems to imply one thing and the track titles another. The second is a late-album track (9 of 13) that introduces a shaker noise at 3:29, followed by sharp bursts of laughter. Light dissonance at the end of the subsequent track continues to disturb. This is not a problem if the album is played as foreground music, yet becomes a problem if the album is meant to aid rest, or study, or romance. This being said, we’re talking about only two minutes out of nearly fifty. The buoyant closer “To the end” restores Leaf‘s sense of solemn beauty, beating back the dissonance like the green dispelling the grey. (Richard Allen)

Rockerilla (n.427 – Marzo 2016)
Poco più di tre quarti d’ora di incontaminate emozioni sui tasti del pianoforte: è l’ultima e più sentita creazione di Stefano Guzzetti, consolidato interprete di un neoclassicismo ormai convintamente abbracciato dopo aver condotto il progetto elettronico Waves on Canvas. Pubblicato dapprima in Giappone, Leaf è un album di semplice ma toccante coinvolgimento, realizzato affiancando al pianoforte un mutevole ensemble di archi e un clarinetto, e ripartito in tredici concisi episodi, presentati in una sequenza curata da Ivo Watts-Russell. Come suggerisce il titolo, da sensazioni passeggere e oggetti in apparenza insignificanti l’artista sardo ricava un’incantevole teoria di palpitanti miniature cameristiche. (Raffaello Russo)