Thursday, July 12, 2012

Travel Notes: New music for viola da gamba

Travel Notes is an album of quasi-improvised pieces that Paolo Pandolfo sketched in a notebook during his journeys and realized later in the studio. Subtitled "New Music for the Viola da Gamba," the disc should not be misconstrued as experimental or avant-garde, for Pandolfo's music is tonal and rather conventional in its melodic phrasing and harmony.

Novel techniques, such as the fluctuating intonations in the duet with trumpet Brothers, and the harsh bowing in La Florentine, are rare. Keep Going, Metamorphosis, 8 Maggio, and Il Sogno di Proserpina are replete with Baroque sonorities and effects, and associations with Marin Marais or Sainte-Colombe are perhaps inevitable because of Pandolfo's predilection for minor keys and plangent suspensions.

However, there is no mistaking his free improvisations for the intricate, structured work of those masters. If anything, Pandolfo aims to attract a contemporary audience, and his music often reflects popular styles. The songs Albanese, Nana Bobò, Baghdad's Spring, and Prairies push this disc into the world music category. Andrea Pandolfo's muted trumpet, Laura Polimeno's plaintive vocals, and Álvaro Garrido's exotic percussion would work naturally on an international pop album, but their presence here seems calculated to provide crossover appeal for what is otherwise a specialized interest. The recorded sound is clear and vibrant. --Blair Sanderson

No comments:

Post a Comment