Italian String Trio

From Groningen to Mulhouse

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This frighteningly original collection of three suites by the Italian String Trio is a firm pointer, a star lit in the sky, a burning bush of exhortation to the world of classical music, telling it where it should go now that the era of Romanticism is finally -- thank god -- dead and all but gone (too long enough, even Schoenberg's era passed before the doddering towers of a music written only for aristocrats and despots fell into the dusty ruins from misuse and decay). The Italians make use of Romanticism, as they do of musical impressionism and lyric Russian post-serialism in their quest to score a true "classical" music for this present era. The trio of suites that make up this recording -- all written by the trio's members -- offer a startling view of the deep, sensual lyricism that is inherent in the classical tradition, albeit expressing it in ways that employ dissonance and strident dynamics alongside drone, extrapolated expressionism, and tonal and timbral inquiry. Employing double bass, cello, and violin, the Italians utilize jazz's tradition to make it new by creating spaces for improvisation -- a part of the classical tradition from the very beginning until the Romantic clowns finished it, and the music, off for good. A listen to the second part of the opening suite, "La Canzone di Re Ludovico" by Tommaso, reveals the place lyricism and dissonant improvisation have in extending the concept of harmony and episodic resolution by employing themes originally divined by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and juxtaposing them against free improvisation and Bartok's modalism. The result is stunning: bright, ornate, dynamic, and yet warm in its thunderous dynamic and drama. This section serves as a microcosmic view for the rest of the disc, which has not a weak idea or dull moment on it thanks to fantastically complex harmonic investigation and tonal invention that would shame the other ear off Beethoven -- at least before his late quartets. Truly a gorgeous monster, this live recording is among the most beautiful modern vanguard titles the Italians have put forth.

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