Lorenzo Arruga

Vivaldi: The Meeting

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There's a fundamental incongruity in coupling the sheer volume and propulsiveness of death metal drummer Dave Lombardo with classical musicians. On paper, it just doesn't seem to add up. At best, one would imagine an exercise in diversity and experimentation; at worst, the London Philharmonic examines the work of Spinal Tap. But Lombardo has worked in avant spheres before, having recorded with John Zorn, and Mike Patton with Fantomas. In August of 1998, Lombardo accepted a puzzling invitation to team up with writer and conductor Lorenzo Arruga in an improvisational examination of a seven-song suite by composer Antonio Vivaldi. To say the least, it's peculiar: Lombardo, a death metal pioneer, thumping along to delicate, nuanced compositions intended for reed instruments. At times, for instance, "Una Sfida: 'La tempesta D'estate," "the meeting" coalesces brilliantly; at others, it seems an awkward first date -- Lombardo completely overwhelms the subtlety of the harpsichord, flute, and florid vocals. To borrow an analogy, it's like watching a linebacker try his hand at ballet. Though very few drummers have Lombardo's command and skill, sonically there really isn't much point to this. Interesting? Of course. Daring? Indeed. Best left at that.

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