Jazz CD Reviews

Gianluigi Trovesi all’opera – Profumo di Violetta – ECM

This is to me the most interesting release ECM has offered in years.

Published on January 15, 2009

Gianluigi Trovesi all’opera – Profumo di Violetta – ECM
Gianluigi Trovesi all’opera – Profumo di Violetta – ECM B0012221-02 ***** [Release date; Jan. 13, 09]:

(Gianluigi Trovesi – piccolo clarinet, contra-alto clarinet & alto sax; Marco Remondini: cello & electronics; Stefano Bertoli – drums & percussion; Filarmonica Mousiké, winds & percussion/Savino Acquaviva, cond.)

This is to me the most interesting release ECM has offered in years, and it’s already my favorite recent jazz album.  None of the usual dark Nordic chamber jazz meanderings here – this is a wild suite of Italian iconoclasm that is neither serialized nor inaccessible.  It should appeal to most classical listeners even more than to jazz fans.  And it would probably be greatly enjoyed by both opera lovers and opera haters.

Debussy once said “in opera there is always too much singing,” and leading Italian jazz clarinetist Trovesi has taken that to heart in his amazing suite that revisits the world of opera that is so important to most Italians, but from a delightfully twisted angle full of humor and satire as well as love of the genre’s drama and beauty.  The album’s somewhat confusing two titles both have double meanings: “opera” also means “work” – thus Trovesi at Work The Perfume of Violetta refers to the star of Verdi’s La Traviata plus the perfume of the flower and its connotations.  Saxist Joe Lovano did an album in homage to Enrico Caruso not long ago, but Trovesi isn’t content with just “singing” the famous tunes on his clarinet – he deconstructs them, mixes them up, and generally interweaves them into a whole new bag – with the assistance of cellist and synthesist Marco Remondini plus a chamber orchestra consisting of winds and percussion.

The latter “banda” is a reminder of the on-stage music provided by small bands in many operas. They really cut loose on some of the 21 tracks of the suite, such as the Epilogue, which creates a tragic march for Cavaradossi as he walks toward his execution, combined with the theme of the Te Deum heard in the first act of Tosca.  Trovesi’s clarinet soars over this intense summary of the suite. The familiar Largo al factotum from The Barber of Seville gets a hilarious treatment as a wild rock fuzz-guitar solo over the wind band. The Prologue plays around with familiar tunes from Carmen, several sections quote Traviata themes, and in the Toccata one hears the heroic opening theme of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.  There’s also melodies from Cavalleria Rusticana, L’Orfeo, and La Serva Padrona. Here and there one hears Felliniesque musical bridges that sound something like Nino Rota’s Godfather music. Whether you’re a fan of Italian opera or not, I believe most listeners will have a ball with Profumo di Violetta!  This makes me want to hear some of Trovesi’s past albums which I seem to have missed.

1. Il PROLOGO Alba (Trovesi)
2. IL MITO Toccata (from L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi)
3. Musa, Euridice, Ninfe avernali (by Gianluigi Trovesi)
4. Ritornello (from L’Orfeo by Monteverdi)
5. Frammenti orfici (by Gianluigi Trovesi)
6. IL BALLO Intrecciar Ciaccone (based on Ciaccona by Maurizio Cazzati)
7. IL GIOCO DELLE SEDUZIONI “Pur ti miro” (from L’Incoronazione di Poppea by Monteverdi)
8. “Stizzoso, mio stizzoso” (from La Serva Padrona by Gian Battista Pergolesi)
9. Vespone (by Gianluigi Trovesi)
10. L’INNAMORAMENTO Profumo di Violetta Part I (by Gianluigi Trovesi)
11. “Ah, fors’é lui che l’anima” (from La Traviata by Verdi)
12. Profumo di Violetta Part II (by Gianluigi Trovesi)
13. Violetta e le altre (by Marco Remondini)
14. IL SALTELLAR GIOIOSO É Piquillo, un bel gagliardo (from La Traviata by Verdi)
15. Salterellando (by Gianluigi Trovesi)
16. Antico Saltarello (anon.)
17. Salterello Amoroso (by Gianluigi Trovesi)
18. “Largo al factotum” (from The Barber of Seville by Rossini),
19. LA GELOSIA Aspettando compare alfio (by Rodolfo Matulich/Gianluigi Trovesi)
20. “Il cavallo scalpita” (from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni
21. L’EPILOGO Così, Tosca (by Natale Arnoldi, based on Finale of Act III and I of Tosca by Puccini)
 – John Sunier

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