giovedì 26 luglio 2012

Review of StrongStrangeStrings by Elena Càsoli, Stradivarius 2001

Elena Càsoli StrongStrangeStrings

Italian Version

“I play an instrument which today is enjoying one of the happiest periods in its long history. Its structure and sound have evolved and kept pace with changes in attitudes to music, culmination in a range of forms and expressions in the twentieth century unheard of since the renaissance and the baroque eras.”
These are the first words you read in the valuable 28-page booklet attached to the cd StronStrangeStrings edited by Stradivarius in 2001, where Elena Casoli make available the music she interpreted for a group of authors who have turned their attention to guitar in a surprisingly eclectic and innovative way, "... the guitar was an instrument played in all musical genres, along with the classic,there was in the first half of last century, a strong interestabout by different composers classics. Schönberg, Berg and Webern included it in their work just as a popular instrument which characterized their work for its strangeness to the classic sound, as in the Serenade of Schönberg or Berg's Wozzeck, which make their appearance some chitarrine by Bierhaus People. The same thing happened in the Sixties. When composers have incorporated the classical guitar or electric,they have done it with the idea of using a “tool” to break with the world of classical music: a protest against the traditional sound. It was a lucky thing that the guitar had another life. Now in contemporary ensemble it has become an important instrument as the others. It no longer suffers this sort of isolation, which exists for example in relation to the nineteenth century repertoire. (From: "Amadeus", n.152, 2002. © Paragon / Coralli Michele) "An important premise for this very interesting record because the versatility and ability of Elena Casoli to adapt hertself, her guitar technic (really great) and her guitar (it ranges from classical to 'acustic, from Arciliuto to the electric guitar) to the music and the needs of different composers.
We start listening to the first song by Roberto Doati " L’apparizione di tre rughe "made in 2001. This is the first of 5 pieces of different durations and growing (30 ", 1 ', 2', 3 '5') maybe the composer might like the series of Fibonacci, these pieces have been written as a break to be used during the concerts and they have recorde with the same function for this record.
These peices resonate like the orchestral sounds in the beginning of a concert, like cascades of irridiscent colors and sounds, liquid, diversified, broken, almost interlocutors sounds, isolationist landscapes, echoes from Loren Mazzacane Connors. After this initial approach beyond the usual "classics" canons we listen to the beautiful "Paisaje cubano con campanas" by Leo Brouwer, dated 1986. Elena Casoli defines it in this way: "an affectionate tribute to Leo Brouwer’ native island" where the composer manages to merge "simply" the folk music tradition of Afro-Cuban music with the "cultured" European experimental through a series of passages and musical landscape colorful, fresh and relaxing at the same time.

Lupus in fabula, we find Steve Reich with his Electric Counterpoint, ".. I play electric guitar from more then ten years and this has happened thanks to a few composers. I found in them an interest for this instrument and at the same time I noticed the difficulty about meeting electric guitarists who were able to read their scores. So I studied, read, tried, heard a lot and I realized that in some cases, the composers used it as an approach to a language more like rock music, sometimes starting from electronic ore electro acustic shape. So the compositive experience is applied also to the electric guitar, regardless of what has been its history about rock or jazz. Sometimes it is unrecognizable as an electric guitar,being so transformed through technical specifications, which changes the sound that its sound is no more recognizable as one from an electric guitar. It remains an instrumentl in which the use of hands is always very physical, unlike for example a keyboard. (From: "Amadeus", n.152, 2002. © Paragon / Coralli Michele) "Listening to the music I wondered if the interpreter used a plectrum or the classic technique, the result is very nice, in my opinion this is a more delicate interpretation, with a better touch than that of Pat Metheny and a clean and balanced sound (excellent recording) that shows Reich’s counterpoint at its best.
Following we can find, in my opinion, the gems of the disc: three pieces from the Guitar Book of the American composer Lou Harrison, three short compositions very close to the atmosphere of the most intimate and relaxed (Red Princess) period of the acoustic guitarists John Fahey. Harrison is a composer famous for his works with microtonal music and his interest about Indonesian music and these pieces, performed with acoustic guitar are simply amazing for their intensity and evocative sounds.
The record continues with the inclusion of musics that are “at home” in the so-called "contemporary steel guitar”, with a manipulative use of sound like the composition of Maurizio Pisati “Spiegelkontaktfabrik”, whose visual ideas recalls “La Fabbrica Illuminata” by Luigi Nono, and Scenario by Michele Tadini, almost like Elena Càsoli wants to close an ideal sound triangle begun with L'apparizione di tre rughe by Roberto Doati.
We return on a more melodic round with transcriptions of Toru Takemitsu, three evergreen like Over The Rainbow, Summertime and Yesterday. Who is accustomed to jazz versions of these standards will have a (pleasant) surprise: in the jazz tradition, the attention in the standard reading is placed more on the harmonic component rather than on the melody of the song, instead Takemitsu spotlight the issue carrying the melody in the first plan, creating songs full about romance, well-understood in this sense by Casoli, with really fine feeling and music touch.
This is without any doubts a great record and the proof is how much easily it comes back on my cd player.
A note of praise for the excellent recording quality and the attached booklet, 28 pages of interesting reading where Elena Càsoli ideally accompanies with her reflections the listener in the musical paths proposed.

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