Stefano Battaglia – Re: Pasolini – ECM Records

by | Sep 28, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Stefano Battaglia – Re: Pasolini – ECM Records (2 CDs) 1998/99, 1:58:46 total ****:

(Battaglia, piano & composer; CD 1: sextet with trumpet, clarinets, cello, bass & drums; CD 2: quintet with violin, cello, bass & percussion)

This disc was issued in ECM’s jazz line rather than its New Series classical imprint, but I feel even with the drums and percussion it’s closer to the classical new music genre so have put it in this section. The Italian pianist-composer is obviously classically-trained and is heard on many different European recordings. This is his second for ECM and is again a double-CD effort like the first, Raccolto.

The theme is a musical interpretation of the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini – not necessarily music for his specific films, but an interpretation of the late filmmaker’s life work, which Battaglia considers to be poetry in the fullest sense. Pasolini had an extraordinary capacity to bring opposites into coexistence, and he covered the sacred and profane, academic and pop culture, and delved deeply into ethical, political and religious areas.

The nine pieces on the first disc have the most appeal, and the presence of the trumpet and clarinet (which are not heard on the second disc) create a more energetic and exciting sound than the piano and strings on the second disc. It’s not clear if some of the pieces are settings of the actual themes heard on the soundtracks of some of Pasolini’s films or if they are entirely original compositions of Battaglia – an example is the theme from his film Teorema. There is a piece honoring the appearance of Maria Callas in Pasolini’s Medea. Another is inspired by seeing photos of Pasolini playing football, blended with a funeral chant. The last of the first set of pieces depicts Rome, not as historic and triumphal but as cruel and melancholic. The entire first CD can be listened to as a flowing suite of maverick chamber music.

The note series for Battaglia’s Lyra on Disc 2 was based on the layout of the stars in the constellation Lyra; it is a theme with eight variations which come back between other short selections on this disc.  Most of the selections here are less tonal than on the first disc.  One is scored only for prepared piano and percussion. The penultimate piece, Ostia, commemorates the tragic killing of Pasolini in 1975 – the perpetrators have never been identified.  In general the second disc is less successful than the first.  Thanks to ECM for providing notes on each selection; the listener would certainly be lost without them.

TrackList: Disc 1 = Canzone de Laura Betti, Toto e Ninetto, Canto popolare, Cosa sono le nuvole, Fevrar, Il sogno de una cosa, Teorema, Callas, Pietra lata
Disc 2 = Lyra l, Lyra II, Meditazione orale, Lyra III, Lyra IV, Scritti corsari, Lyra V, Epigrammi, Lyra VI, Setaccio, Lyra VII, Mimesis devina mimesis, Lyra VIII, Ostia, Pasolini

– John Sunier

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