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Gianni Coscia: Frescobaldi per Noi

Gianni Coscia: Frescobaldi per Noi

Fonè  092 SACD

Stereo Hybrid

Jazz


Gianni Coscia (accordion)
Fulvio Sigurta (trumpet)
Dino Piana (trombone)
Enzo Pietropaoli (bass)

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Review by Mark Werlin - March 13, 2017

A quartet of Gianni Coscia, accordion, Fulvio Sigurtà, trumpet, Dino Piani, trombone, and Enzo Pietropaoli, bass perform a sparkling set of jazz interpretations of the work of Girolamo Alessandro Frescobaldi (1583-1643) and original compositions by Coscia written for the ensemble.

In the succinct liner notes, Coscia describes the interpretive approach that he adopted:

"The contemporary improviser, with due care and sensitivity to the message of the original piece, does not betray the original script… but leaves it unaltered , playing instead upon a harmonic development, an audacious rhythmic invention, a solo or ensemble phrasing that is emotionally indivisible from the work of the great artist from Ferrara."

The album shares some similarities with Marc van Roon: Inventions & Variations, but where pianist van Roon improvised spontaneously out of his experience studying and performing the works of J.S. Bach, accordionist Coscia adapted particular Frescobaldi pieces with the instrumentation of the ensemble in mind.

The keyboard music of Frescobaldi was highly regarded by his contemporaries, and is believed to have had an influence on J.S. Bach, who owned manuscript copies of Frescobaldi's works. Variations, tempo changes, and virtuoso technical demands are some of the innovations that distinguish the partitas, passacaglias and toccatas. Frescobaldi was no stranger to improvisation: some of his organ compositions were intended as frameworks for the keyboardist to improvise contrapuntal inventions on Gregorian chants. His work is well-suited—and challenging—to contemporary improvisers.

Trumpeter Fulvio Sigurtà, whose jazz conception draws on Baroque and classical influences, and trombonist Dino Piani, the possessor of a broad tonal palette and superb intonation, are more than equal to the challenge of realizing Coscia's adaptations, without irony or cliché. The second track on the disc, Preambulum (for trombone) transitions easily from the arranged ensemble statement into a jazz interlude. Throughout the set, the ensemble's movement from Baroque to jazz is accomplished with fluidity, in no small part owing to bassist Pietropaoli's facility in shifting from a walking beat in the improvisations to figured bass parts in the adapted Frescobaldi themes.

The instruments blend very well together, with the accordion functioning much as a Baroque organ, the bass adding low counter-lines, and the brass instruments evoking an early-music orchestra. Each of the players is featured as an improvising soloist. Coscia's emphasis on the Italian character of the music does not clash with the modern jazz idiom of the trombone and trumpet solos. I listen to a lot of contemporary European jazz and historically informed performances of Baroque music; to my ears, the concept works. Even if you're a Baroque purist, the commitment of the musicians to realize this intention may overcome any preconceptions about the "right" way to play period music.

Gianni Coscia has a special interest in making the work of composers from the past live again "per noi" ("for us", both the musicians and audience). He recorded two albums with clarinetist Gianluigi Trovesi for ECM, "Round About Weill" and "In Cerca di Cibo", which, like the Frescobaldi disc, consist of improvisations on themes of classical composers interspersed with original compositions.

"Frescobaldi per Noi" was originally recorded in 2004 by Francesco Ciarfugli and released by the Giotto label on audio CD. Fonè Records label owner Giulio Cesare Ricci remastered the recording to DSD for this 2016 SACD release. The ensemble is set back in the reverberant acoustic of Studio San Martino di Todi, which (if the photo I located on facebook is of that same location), is a large, high-ceilinged room constructed of wood and brick, typical of Ricci's preferred type of recording venue.

This audiophile SACD is a worthy addition to the Fonè catalog and a delight for the open-eared listener.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Werlin and HRAudio.net

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