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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Horn (speakers) and (flugel) horn




Yesterday evening I attended to a rare, superb performance by Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu, classical and baritone nylon strung guitars and trumpet and flugelhorn... it happened at Sala dei Giganti al Liviano, an huge ancient, historic venue once a part of Carraresi royal-palace, back in 1300, when Padua was, like Venice, a city of merchants and travellers... with both Saint Anthony's church and Galileo Galilei and his telescope... the University and the church, sacred and revolutionary, at same time...

It's my hometown and I love it...

... same also seemed to feel the two musicians, in Sala dei Giganti... everytime I attended to a concert at Sala dei Giganti, ALL, bar none, musicians were loosing themselves looking at those giants (giganti) on the walls frescos... huge warriors in army, and an atmosphere to par.

La Monte Young & marian Zazeela, Terry Riley, Oregon, Charlemagne Palestine, Kujiken brothers, Gustav Leonhard, Hopkinson Smith and several, several others... all fell in love with this very, magic place...

... and Towner and Fresu were not exception... the concert was introducing the last musicians effort on ECM, "Chiaroscuro", which I already briefly talked about in a previous post...

Great, angular, yet poetic music... it seems that Towner, who now lives in Palermo, Italy, and Fresu, italian from Sardinia, both NOW share a definite Mediterranean flavour... a singing quality also to most nervous compositions... also the timeless stantards by Bill Evans and Miles' like Blue in Green are given an "italian treatment"...

... BUT, I'm not here to chronicle the concert;-)))

In "Chiaroscuro" disk on ECM, the duo is recorded very lively, with the usual ECM's sound: details 2die4, and extremely broad sonic palette and dynamics...

This very disk was one of the first listenings with my new TGE/Gotorama's and I was impressed by the superb sound of Fresu's flugelhorn... it was violent sounding, almost hurting, sometimes, while others it was mellow and smooth, having a breathing-like quality.

Despite it wasn't the first time I saw Fresu playing alive, I noticed he was - how can I say - using the stage wooden floor like an equalizer: while - as always - playing seated, he was bowing a lot, almost touching with instrument brass-bell the floor, giving a floating, different character to the sound depending on the distance from the floor itself.

After the concert I asked to him about this habit - i.e. as he was also using it in the studio... and YES, he was... in the ECM's minimalist approach, the sound engineer isn't heavily equalizing or correcting things, pan-potting or others gimnicks, and it's always musician task to expressively - someway - change the sound.

I was in front of the duo, second-row, at about 5 meters from the instruments placed on a 20 cm. high stage, and I blissfully appreciated the music and the sound, as well... I used my aural memory to remember the sound in my studio, and, folks... the shouting superb quality and power of the flugelhorn (and of the trumpet...) TRULY belongs to an outdoor instrument;-) more than a concert, indoor one!

The beefy, rich, thick sounds of Fresu's instrument were so similar in trueness to the reproduced sound in my system... and I understood "why" Fresu's flugelhorn sounded - at times - so hurting, also at home as alive, depending he was playing straight to the mike or the audience, or "playing with the floor";-) - and, shamelessly, a (silly) part of me, smiled in a Buddha-like way...

... maybe my (very own) quest for "M-U-S-I-C", after maybe having reached in the years a bold "M-U...", recently became a "M-U-S..."!?!

Cannot say... BUT sure I enjoyed the concert a lot...

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