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Luciano Basso - Notturni CD (album) cover

NOTTURNI

Luciano Basso

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.00 | 3 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The story of the night told by piano

Luciano Basso is an acclaimed Italian composer and musician who began playing as a young child in Venice. Like others in the 1970s he was caught up in the desire to merge the classical music he loved with the experimental and rock components of the musical scene around him. The results were pretty spectacular, with his debut "Voci" being one of the most beloved RPI titles on the site, while its follow-up "Cogli il Giorno" was perhaps even better (though less known.) In later years Basso moved on to composing, teaching, and classical piano performance and released several albums along the way. As a lover of the piano as an instrument, I wanted to hear Basso's most purely piano-driven work which according to some reading was "Notturni." I should warn the reader that my knowledge of classical music is very limited, and I can only judge the music at face value, without benefit of being able to compare it to other musicians or composers of the genre.

"Notturni" is split into two compositions, "Notturno" (nocturnal, of the night), each with four parts and separated by a short interlude called "il mattino" (the morning). Recorded in the fall of 1997, the album is the complete product of a Steinway grand piano with zero additional band instrumentation. In his notes Basso talks about always trying to keep emotion central during his approach to composition and I believe you can hear this in "Notturni." This is classical music that strikes me as less stuffy and more reflective than other things I've heard.

It also is successful at evoking the mood of the central theme, the night. Of the two pieces the second side is my favorite. The playing is sparse and subtle rather than overbearing or frenetic. It is not burdened by excessive notes or flashy keyboard runs. Mostly the pieces move slowly and thoughtfully, allowing you to evoke imagery of the night sky, the middle of the night, a certain loneliness. One can imagine this as the soundtrack of a lonely soul out walking after dark as most of the world around him sleeps, lost in his thoughts and problems, seeking solace from the relative quiet and the resting pavement. Describing the songs meaningfully is challenging as it is all about mood and color, soft, dark blue, and to my ears mostly melancholic and longing. I was often captivated by the sad, lovely music and the ability of Basso to move me with this minimalist work.

The two moodier pieces of night-themed music are separated by a short interlude, the morning, which is more light-hearted and perfectly captures the feelings of sunrise, whose notes evoke the presence of sunshine and birdsong, the start of a fresh day. Some might bemoan the lack of a carefully placed vocal or an orchestral addition behind the piano, and certainly these things could be nice, but there are other albums for that. The beauty of this is the singular focus on those gorgeous notes and listening for the subtle variation, the emphasis of his volume, the melodic turns he takes. I like the lack of other musicians and the unique experience of having such an eloquent pianist paint a vision of "the night" for us. From the listener it requires patience and attentiveness to appreciate the full effect.

I doubt this review is of much help to the reader but it is very difficult for me to describe such an album, especially without much background on the form. I know that I loved the music and look forward to exploring more of Basso's "post-prog rock" works. If you love the piano and you enjoy classical music, you will undoubtedly enjoy the recital of "Notturni" and the process of subtle storytelling. Very good though probably not for everyone.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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