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The Eclectic Beating: Contemporary Music for Chitarra Battente

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  • Artist(s): Marcello De Carolis
  • Composer(s): Angelo Gilardino, Chick Corea, Francesco Loccisano, Marcello De Carolis
  • EAN Code: 7.46160911915
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Italian Guitar
  • Period: Contemporary
  • Publication year: 2020
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Description

The tracks on this CD faithfully recount the project started some years ago by Marcello De Carolis, a young classical guitar virtuoso who followed a typical course of academic studies and has a brilliant start to his concert career. Attracted by the popular culture of his region of birth and residence, Lucania, he did not have far to go to discover the sound of the chitarra battente and become enthralled by it. An instrument reminiscent of the music of village festivals, both in song and dance, the chitarra battente music – no less Calabrian than Lucanian – goes far back in time to an era of interwoven history and myth. Even with certain documents that precisely reference certain luthiers who crafted it, such as the legendary masters of the De Bonis dynasty of Bisignano, the musical identity of the chitarra battente remains enveloped in legend. Completely devoid of a cultured repertoire, however, it was never merely an instrument of the common people; indeed, a few surviving examples dating back to the last century do boast very fine workmanship, but as for written music nothing is known.
Francesco Loccisano is the virtuoso who delved into the art of the chitarra battente, searching in the field for the songs and dances that still flourish in folk festivals today. In his art, he has embraced a legacy otherwise at risk of extinction and, as such, his recovery of this local instrument is a gesture that propagates cultural heritage, as well as a strictly musical venture. Recently, the Conservatory of Nocera Terinese (in the Province of Cosenza) established for him a course in chitarra battente, just like the Conservatory of Cordoba did by establishing a professorship for teaching the flamenco guitar. In this collection, De Carolis joins Loccisano in playing two pieces that enhance the value of the folk instrument, albeit with the latter artist not evoking the music commonly heard at country fairs, rather, he forces the boundaries of his music and instrument by proposing a version that is updated, yet reminiscent of their origins.
In resolutely moving towards a celebration of the chitarra battente as a concert instrument, admittedly with folk origins but with a broad development prospect in the cultured repertoire, in one of his versions of a piece by the famous jazz pianist Chick Corea, Marcello De Carolis projects the instrument into a completely new musical universe. The Iberian flavour of the piece is mediated by a refined musical intellect that fully acknowledges the Hispanic orientation of the French masters of the early twentieth century. Indeed, it would even be perfectly natural for De Carolis to foray into the genre of jazz. Perhaps it is just a matter of time.
Henceforth, the discussion must inevitably continue in the first person. When, in 2017, De Carolis commissioned me to compose a piece for the chitarra battente, I was faced with difficulties that seemed insurmountable. I could not imagine a work for the instrument that would only enjoy the mere recognition as the segment of an album sheet. The tuning of the five choruses (double strings) is, in fact, similar to one of the baroque “reentrant” guitar tunings, i.e. it places the lowest note (G) in the centre, while the fourth and fifth revert to the upper register. All this creates significant difficulty when attempting to compose a solid architecture: the lack of bass tonality thus becomes impossible to recover. At a loss, I proposed a solution to the young virtuoso from Potenza, besides filling the void in the bass register, we could vastly extend the richness the timbric range: the tone of the chitarra battente, that purveyor of heightened anxiety, alarming sensations, total sound bordering on chasms of silence, could be complemented and salvaged by the noble absorbed tones of the evocative and consoling classical guitar, mitigating the risk of rendering the instrument of Loccisano and De Carolis akin to an overexcited mandolin, an asphyxiated harpsichord, a sort of wild and furious bandurrias. De Carolis willingly agreed.
The idea of evoking, with the infinite nuanced timbres, the myriad colours of Lucania – which I knew well – found providential external support in the art of Maria Padula, a local painter who had succeeded in the same task I had set myself, i.e. a fusion between rural and pastoral elements and the cultured environment: her paintings served me as a valid model capable of exalting the mythological aspects of the world dear to Rocco Scotellaro and Leonardo Sinisgalli and the composure of Morandi’s reassuring pictorial poetry. This is why I worked on the piece entitled, Albero Solitario, like one of Padula’s Paintings. The first performances were given by De Carolis himself and Luca Fabrizio, his partner in the duo Cordaminazioni.
The following year (2018), the unstoppable Marcello jumped the gun and surpassed himself with a Concerto for chitarra battente and orchestra! Challenged by such folly, I stepped up to the mark and wrote the Concerto di Matera. Of course, I replaced the orchestra with a string quintet and a woodwind quintet. It is somewhat ironic, but the quantity and nature of the problems that arose during the construction of this piece were less treacherous than those encountered in composing “Albero Solitario”: the chitarra battente was sustained and “carried” by the double bass and the cello in the lower register, while the violins, flute and oboe assured coverage of the register that could not be reached by the solo instrument. The other instruments offered timbric variants to lift the tonality of the “struck” strings in a responsory dialogue, but also with overlapping events full of surprises. Exploration does not always lead to discovery, but in this case nothing, essentially nothing, minimally evoked deja entendu sensations. As we know from the times of Les demoiselles d’Avignon and the Sacre du Printemps – Primitivism goes magnificently hand in hand with the most sophisticated research in timbric evolution …
In conclusion, in this CD we are witnessing not the birth of a new instrument but its regeneration, the fusion of a remote past in the oral tradition with a present that is alive and recorded in writing. Who knows what the future holds for the guitar of the rural fairs and rustic bacchanalia of southern Italy…

Liner Notes Angelo Gilardino

 

Artist(s)

Marcello De Carolis: Marcello De Carolis graduated in 2012 in Classical guitar with full marks and honors, at the Conservatorio Gesualdo da Venosa in Potenza, Italy. He has attended a lot of courses and masterclasses held by several masters including: Angelo Gilardino, Luca Fabrizio, Roland Dyens, Leo Brower, Aniello Desiderio and Marco Socìas. In 2013 he became interested and started studying the Chitarra Battente with the master Francesco Loccisano. In 2015 he founded the duo “Cordaminazioni” with master Luca Fabrizio in which he plays both the Classical and the Chitarra Battente. As Cordaminazioni he recorded an homonymous album, in which the sounds and instruments of southern Italy are perfectly merged with those of South America. Since 2019 he collaborates with Francesco Loccisano. The duo experiences the sound of two solo Chitarre Battenti in a dense and very rhythmic dialogue. Together they published “La Chitarra Battente - Metodo Base” edited by fingerpicking.net and the record “Venti” edited by Italysona. His concert activity has allowed him to perform with his Battente at major festivals including: Un Paese a Sei Corde, Festival internazionale della chitarra di Lagonegro, Festival chitarristico internazionale Bustese, Rieti Guitar Festival. He is currently putting a lot of effort into developing a new cultured repertoire for solo Chitarra Battente, becoming a reference for contemporary composers and their music. As a matter of fact, a lot of composers are composing works for the Chitarra Battente. Among the others it’s worth mentioning: Angelo Gilardino, Kevin Swierkosz-Lenart, Franco Cavallone, Edoardo Dadone, Massimo Ceccarelli, Pierpaolo Palazzo, Luca Fabrizio, Oscar Bellomo, Roberto Piana e Alfredo Franco. In addition to the above-mentioned collaborations with Luca Fabrizio and Francesco Loccisano, he’s proving himself a very versatile artist collaborating also with the songwriter Raffaello Simeoni, and bringing the Chitarra Battente in the World Music, among the sounds of traditional wind and string instruments from all over the world. In addition, with his trio made up by Luca Fabrizio playing the ukubass and Luciano Brancati playing Cajon and percussions, he is now experimenting the resources of the Chitarra Battente on the fields of Jazz and World Music.

Composer(s)

Angelo Gilardino was born in 1941 in Vercelli (North-West of Italy) where he later studied (guitar, violoncello and composition) in the local music schools. His concert career, which lasted from 1958 to 1981, had a great influence on the development of the guitar as an instrument in the ‘limelight’ in the twentieth century. Indeed, he gave premiere performances of hundreds of new compositions dedicated to him by composers from all over the world. In 1967 Edizioni Musicali Bèrben appointed him to supervise what has become the most important collection of music for guitar of the twentieth century and which bears his name.

In 1981 Gilardino retired from concert work to devote his time to composition, teaching and musicological research.

Since 1982 he has published an extensive collection of his own compositions: Studi di virtuosità e di trascendenza, which John W. Duarte hailed as “milestones in the new repertoire of the classical guitar”, Sonatas, Variations, four concertos for solo guitar and guitar groups, seventeen concertos with orchestra and fifteen works of chamber music. His works are frequently performed and recorded.

His contribution to teaching began with the Liceo Musicale “G.B. Viotti” in Vercelli where he taught from 1965 to 1981 followed by an appointment as professor at the “Antonio Vivaldi” Conservatory in Alessandria from 1981 to 2004. From 1984 to 2003 he held post-graduate courses at the “Lorenzo Perosi” Accademia Superiore Internazionale di Musica in Biella.

He has also held 200 courses, seminars and master classes in various European countries at the invitation of universities, academies, conservatories, music associations and festivals.

As a musicologist he has made a considerable contribution to the guitar repertoire of the first half of the twentieth century with the discovery and publication of important works which were either unknown or considered as lost, such as Ottorino Respighi’s Variazioni per chitarra, the Sonata para guitarra by Antonio José and a large corpus of guitar works written for Andrés Segovia by Spanish, French and British composers during the Twenties and the Thirties. Since 2002 he has edited the publication of these works (32 volumes) in The Andrés Segovia Archive, published by Edizioni Musicali Bèrben. He also reconstructed the concerto for guitar and orchestra by the Russian composer Boris Asafiev, published by Editions Orphée, and he orchestrated the Hommage à Manuel de Falla by the Polish-French composer Alexandre Tansman, left unfinished by its author. The rescue of these works and their subsequent publication has given new substance to the historical repertoire of the twentieth century. Besides, he created new settings for Guitar and Orchestra of famous items of the repertoire for solo guitar.

In 1997 he was appointed as artistic director of the “Andrés Segovia” Foundation of Linares, Spain, a charge which he left at the end of 2005.

In 1998 he was awarded the “Marengo Music” prize of the Conservatory of Alessandria. The Italian Guitar Congress awarded him the prize “Golden Guitar” three times (1997, 1998, 2000), respectively for his compositions, his teaching and his musicological research. In 2009, he was an inductee of the “Artistic Achievement Award – Hall of Fame” of the Guitar Foundation of America. In 2011 the Guitar Festival of Córdoba (Spain) entitled to him the “Jornadas de Estudio” with dedicating concerts and lectures to his works. In 2018, he received career awards from Rome Expo Guitars and from Conservatorio di Musica “Luigi Cherubini” in Florence.

He has written and published biographies of Andrés Segovia and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and two books dealing with the principles of guitar technique. He has published a handbook for the benefit of those composers wishing to write for the guitar but who are not familiar with the intricacies of this instrument. He has also published a handbook of guitar history, a volume entitled La chitarra and a considerable number of essays and articles.

Marcello De Carolis: Marcello De Carolis graduated in 2012 in Classical guitar with full marks and honors, at the Conservatorio Gesualdo da Venosa in Potenza, Italy. He has attended a lot of courses and masterclasses held by several masters including: Angelo Gilardino, Luca Fabrizio, Roland Dyens, Leo Brower, Aniello Desiderio and Marco Socìas. In 2013 he became interested and started studying the Chitarra Battente with the master Francesco Loccisano. In 2015 he founded the duo “Cordaminazioni” with master Luca Fabrizio in which he plays both the Classical and the Chitarra Battente. As Cordaminazioni he recorded an homonymous album, in which the sounds and instruments of southern Italy are perfectly merged with those of South America. Since 2019 he collaborates with Francesco Loccisano. The duo experiences the sound of two solo Chitarre Battenti in a dense and very rhythmic dialogue. Together they published “La Chitarra Battente - Metodo Base” edited by fingerpicking.net and the record “Venti” edited by Italysona. His concert activity has allowed him to perform with his Battente at major festivals including: Un Paese a Sei Corde, Festival internazionale della chitarra di Lagonegro, Festival chitarristico internazionale Bustese, Rieti Guitar Festival. He is currently putting a lot of effort into developing a new cultured repertoire for solo Chitarra Battente, becoming a reference for contemporary composers and their music. As a matter of fact, a lot of composers are composing works for the Chitarra Battente. Among the others it’s worth mentioning: Angelo Gilardino, Kevin Swierkosz-Lenart, Franco Cavallone, Edoardo Dadone, Massimo Ceccarelli, Pierpaolo Palazzo, Luca Fabrizio, Oscar Bellomo, Roberto Piana e Alfredo Franco. In addition to the above-mentioned collaborations with Luca Fabrizio and Francesco Loccisano, he’s proving himself a very versatile artist collaborating also with the songwriter Raffaello Simeoni, and bringing the Chitarra Battente in the World Music, among the sounds of traditional wind and string instruments from all over the world. In addition, with his trio made up by Luca Fabrizio playing the ukubass and Luciano Brancati playing Cajon and percussions, he is now experimenting the resources of the Chitarra Battente on the fields of Jazz and World Music.