Franco D'Andrea

Solo 6: Valzer, Opera Natale

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One of four solo piano CDs recorded over three days of sessions in the spring of 2001, this volume is very eclectic and a breath of fresh air. Franco d'Andrea mixes selections from various operas, waltzes, standards, and even Christmas carols, while drastically detouring from the typical approaches to these well-known songs. d'Andrea is nearly two-thirds of the way into An der Schönen, Blauen Donau (On the Beautiful Blue Danube) before it is apparent what he is playing. How many classical pianists would think of combining pieces by Puccini and Verdi in the same medley? d'Andrea makes it work. But the most irresistible track is the joining of Strauss' Wienerwald (Vienna Waltz) with Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love," a true sign of genius at play. d'Andrea's treatment of "O Tannenbaum" has a dark, bittersweet flavor, as if someone was celebrating a first Christmas following the death of a loved one. On the other hand, "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) is initially playful, reverts to a chorus of a traditional arrangement, then mixes it up between the two approaches. The brilliant sound achieved by engineer Paolo Falascone adds to the value of this highly recommended CD. The jazz world owes a special thanks to small independent label owners like Philology's Paolo Piangiarelli, who are willing to take the risks to make sure that artists like Franco d'Andrea are well documented on CDs at the peak of their careers.

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