The elusive Michel Godard continues to blend genres and to produce timeless music. For Castel del Monte, an abandoned castle built by Frederick II, Roman emperor and king of Sicily, the French tubaist convened eight musicians to match the octagonal plan of the building. Ironically, the pieces are not performed by the potential octet, but using different combinations of players. Vocal music has always been an important part of Godard's universe. Therefore, the presence of two vocalists should not come as a surprise. Linda Bsiri, a regular collaborator, and Lucilla Galeazzi, a powerful Umbrian singer and veteran of classical, folk, and new music, are fully involved in the creative process and their parts range from singing to chanting to wordless improvisation. Both artists demonstrate extraordinary control, even in the highest register, and their versatility allows Godard and his other cohorts to tackle and combine varied musical forms: Baroque, Italian folk dances, free improvisation, and more. Despite the background of most of the participants, jazz is not the prevailing form. Obviously, jazz has shaped their improvisational skills, as evidenced by Godard's mellifluous solos or Italian reedist Gianluigi Trovesi's blunt statements. But in general, the music reaches far in the past to bring out elements that are just as relevant in the modern age. Thanks to his vision and bandleading skills, Godard achieves his goals: universality and unity. And with Castel del Monte, he delivers a demanding, fascinating, and profound recording that will bring many rewards to the adventurous and persistent listener.
AllMusic Review by Alain Drouot